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Robinson v. Adams

May 10, 2010

GEORGE H. ROBINSON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
D. ADAMS, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Sheila K. Oberto United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL (Doc. 41)

Plaintiff George H. Robinson ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On January 19, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery responses from Defendants. (Doc. #41.)

Plaintiff's motion describes three discovery disputes. First, Plaintiff contends that Defendants did not respond to Plaintiff's requests to depose each Defendant. Second, Plaintiff contends that Defendants failed to respond to a set of interrogatories and request for production of documents that Plaintiff sent on September 21, 2009. Third, Plaintiff contends that Defendants' response to his August 25, 2009 request for production of documents was inadequate.*fn1

I. Discussion

A. Plaintiff's Request to Depose Defendants

Plaintiff complains that Defendants failed to respond to Plaintiff's September 1, 2009 request to depose Defendants. Defendants contend that they responded to Plaintiff's requests by informing Plaintiff that his request to depose Defendants did not comply with the applicable requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Specifically, Defendants informed Plaintiff that his notice failed to specify the method of recording the deposition as required by Rule 30. Further, Plaintiff did not provide the name or contact information for the officer conducting the deposition as required under Rule 28.

Defendants' objections to Plaintiff's failure to specify the method of deposition appear to be unfounded. Plaintiff's notice, attached to his motion as an exhibit, explicitly states that Plaintiff wished to depose Defendants at Salinas Valley State Prison using audio and video recorders. Defendants' opposition appears to express skepticism over Plaintiff's ability to pay for the audiovisual recording of the deposition.*fn2 However, there is no indication from Plaintiff's notice or Defendants' opposition that Plaintiff cannot afford or cannot otherwise make arrangements for recording and/or transcribing the deposition. Defendants have made no effort to contact Plaintiff to clarify the arrangements for taking the deposition and the Court finds no defects on the face of Plaintiff's notice to Defendants.

Defendants also complains that Plaintiff failed to provide the name or contact information of the officer/court reporter conducting the deposition. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(5) states "[u]nless the parties stipulate otherwise, a deposition must be conducted before an officer appointed or designated under Rule 28." Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 28 provides that a deposition must be taken before "an officer authorized to administer oaths" or "a person appointed by the court." Further, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 28(c) states "[a] deposition must not be taken before a person who is any party's relative, employee, or attorney; who is related to or employed by any party's attorney; or who is financially interested in the action." (Emphasis added.) Plaintiff requested that Defendants' attorney conduct the deposition, which is expressly prohibited by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. However, Rule 29 expressly states that the parties may stipulate to having a deposition taken "before any person, at any time or place, on any notice, and in the manner specified." Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 29(a). Similarly, Rule 30(b)(5) allows the parties to stipulate to arrangements regarding the use of an officer to conduct the deposition.

The Court interprets Plaintiff's notice as requesting that the Defendants stipulate to having the Rule 28(b)(5) duties conducted by Defendants' attorney. While it is Defendants' prerogative to consent or object to Plaintiff's request, the Court finds that Defendants' response to Plaintiff's notice is inadequate. Instead of addressing any possible stipulation regarding the arrangements for the deposition, Defendants merely dismiss Plaintiff's notice on the grounds that it is deficient because it fails to contain contact information for the official conducting the deposition. The Court notes that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure do not require Plaintiff's deposition notice to identify the officer conducting the deposition. See Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(1). Therefore, the Court will require Defendants to make some effort to resolve the dispute with Plaintiff, rather than simply ignore the issue. The Court will order Defendants to meet and confer with Plaintiff within twenty (20) days of the date of service of this order to discuss the arrangements for the depositions.

B. September 21, 2009 Interrogatories/Request for Production of Documents

Plaintiff claims that he sent a set of interrogatories and request for production of documents to Defendants on August 25, 2009. Plaintiff contends that Defendants have failed to respond to the interrogatories and requests for production. Defendants contend that they never received Plaintiff's interrogatories and request for production of documents. If Defendants have still not responded to Plaintiff's interrogatories and document production requests, Defendants are ordered to do so within thirty (30) days of the date of service of this order.*fn3

C. August 25, 2009 Request for Production of Documents

Plaintiff challenges Defendants' objections to his August 25, 2009 request for production of documents. Defendants objected to a number of Plaintiff's requests for documents on the grounds that they were overly broad, overly burdensome, and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

As an initial matter, the Court notes that Plaintiff's motion to compel suffers from substantial defects. Plaintiff's objections to Defendants' responses are generalized and abstract. Although the Court does not hold pro se litigants to the same standard that it holds attorneys, the moving party must bear the burden of informing the Court of which discovery requests are the subject of the motion to compel, which of the responses are disputed, why the responses are deficient, why the objections are not justified, and why the information sought is relevant to the prosecution of this action. See Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002) (moving party bears burden of showing that denial of discovery results in actual and substantial prejudice); see, e.g., Brooks v. Alameida, No. 03-2343, 2009 WL 331358, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Feb.10, 2009) ("Without knowing which responses plaintiff seeks to compel or on what grounds, the court cannot grant plaintiff's motion"); Ellis v. Cambra, No. 02-5646, 2008 WL 860523, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 27, 2008) ("Plaintiff must inform the court which discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel, and, for each disputed response, inform the court why the information sought is relevant and why Defendant's objections are not justified"). Plaintiff does not provide specific arguments regarding specific discovery requests. Plaintiff instead makes vague and generalized arguments regarding every discovery request. For example, Plaintiff challenges Defendants' objection that the discovery requests are not relevant to the prosecution of this action. However, Plaintiff's argument in support of this position is only a conclusory assertion that Defendant's objection is without merit, and that the discovery requests are, in fact, relevant. Plaintiff makes no effort to inform the Court of how each specific discovery request is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.

The Court will not address any objection by Plaintiff that fails to identify a specific discovery request and fails to provide specific arguments as to why Defendants' objection to that particular discovery request was not justified. Plaintiff complains that "[he] can go line by line and address each request and the reasons why [he] need[s] the documents that [he] requested. But the result would be a lengthy motion repeating the same thing over and over. . . . [Plaintiff] respectfully request[s] a little leeway and ask the court to review the complaint and the Exhibits presented with the motion and herein." (Plaintiff's Reply to Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Compel at 6.) If Plaintiff does not bear the burden of explicitly setting forth the arguments behind his motion to compel, the Court will not do it for him. The Court cannot go through every single document request and attempt to determine how they are relevant to the prosecution of this action and speculate on whether they are overly broad, overly ...


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