The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dennis L. Beck United States Magistrate Judge
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS TO COMPEL (DOCS. 33, 34, 42, 44)
DEFENDANTS TO SERVE FURTHER RESPONSE WITHIN 30 DAYS
Plaintiff Nick Woodall ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action is proceeding on Plaintiff's complaint, filed December 22, 2008, against Defendants T. Gonzalez, T. Lawson, Olive, A. Raygosa, M. Sexton, and Valdez for violation of the Eighth Amendment. Pending before the Court are Plaintiff's motions to compel, filed July 1, July 9, August 12, and August 12 of 2010.
I. First Motion To Compel Production Of Documents
Plaintiff's first motion to compel production of documents seeks further response to Request Nos. 3 and 4. (Doc. 33.) Defendants filed an opposition on July 19, 2010. (Doc. 36.) Plaintiff filed his reply on July 27, 2010. (Doc. 38.)
Defendants contend that Plaintiff's motion to compel is procedurally defective because Plaintiff did not submit certification that he in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with Defendants prior to filing his motion. (Defs.' Opp'n 3:9-17, Doc. 36.) Defendants ignore the Court's Discovery and Scheduling Order, which specifically waived this requirement as mandatory, though voluntary compliance is encouraged. (Discovery and Scheduling Order ¶ 5, filed April 9, 2010.) This argument fails for all of Defendants' oppositions to Plaintiff's motions to compel. The Court will now examine the merits of Plaintiff's motion.
Request No. 3: Any and all rules, regulations, and policies of the CDCR and Corcoran
State Prison (Corcoran) regarding the treatment of prisoners in conjunction with the use of restraints, and placement in temporary holding cells. Defendants contend that this request is vague, ambiguous, overly broad, and unintelligible. Defendants' objections are overruled. Plaintiff is requesting rules, regulations, and policies of the CDCR and Corcoran State Prison directly relating to the alleged event in question in this action: Plaintiff being handcuffed while placed in a holding cell. Plaintiff has sufficiently described the document or documents he requests. Defendants cannot reasonably expect Plaintiff, a prisoner, to know what policies were in place regarding the use of restraints on inmates in holding cells. Plaintiff's request goes beyond Title 15 prison regulations.
Defendants are thus ordered to provide further response to Plaintiff's Request For Production No. 3, Set One, within thirty days from the date of service of this order.
Request No. 4: All documents, including without limitation personnel records, pertaining to the employment of each Defendant T. Gonzales III, T. Lawson, A. Olive, L. Valdez, A. Raygosa, and M. Sexton, including but not limited to any and all staff complaints, disciplinaries, and dispositions of such.
Defendants contend that this request is overbroad, lacks foundation, vague, and calls for documents that are subject to federal common law privilege. Plaintiff requests these documents to demonstrate a pattern of abuse, if any, by the Defendants.
This request is overbroad in that it seeks all documents in Defendants' personnel records regarding any complaint filed against them. Not every disciplinary action relates to the events at issue in this action. Thus, the Court will limit the request to "complaints or disciplinary records for ignoring prisoners' complaints of pain." Having limited the scope of the request, Defendants arguments regarding vagueness is moot.
Defendants' objection as to lack of foundation is overruled. Foundation goes towards the admissibility of evidence, which is not a limitation in discovery. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) (relevant information in discovery need not be admissible); United States v. City of Torrance, 163 F.R.D. 590, 592 (C.D. Cal. 1995). A prior disciplinary history of ignoring prisoners' complaints of pain could lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, as it could demonstrate motive or pattern of behavior on the part of Defendants. The time limit will be five years prior to the date of the incident in question, September 13, 2007.
Defendants contend that their personnel records fall within federal common law privilege. Federal law regarding privilege applies to federal question cases. Fed. R. Evid. 501; see United States v. Zolin, 491 U.S. 554, 562 (1989). State law may provide guidance, but it is not the law of the circuit. Green v. Baca, 226 F.R.D. 624, 643-44 (C.D. Cal. 2005). Federal common law recognizes a qualified privilege for official information, including government personnel files. Kerr v. United States Dist. Ct. for N.D. Cal., 511 F.2d 192, 198 (9th Cir. 1975); Soto v. City of Concord, 162 F.R.D. 603, 613 (N.D. Cal. 1995). In determining whether information sought is privileged, the Court must weigh the potential benefits of disclosure against the potential disadvantages to the party asserting the privilege. Sanchez v. City of Santa Ana, 936 F.2d 1027, 1033-34 (9th Cir. 1990).
In order to demonstrate privilege, Defendants must make a substantial threshold showing, such as an affidavit from a responsible official with personal knowledge of the matter. Soto, 162 F.R.D. at 613. Defendants contend that a general search of their personnel records reaches well beyond the necessary legitimate inquiry. The Court limits Plaintiff's request to complaints and disciplinary records for ignoring prisoners' complaints of pain. As Defendants have yet to respond to this more narrow request, Defendants are ordered to serve further response within thirty days from the date of service of this order.
II. Motion To Compel - Interrogatories And Admissions
Plaintiff filed his motion to compel further response to his interrogatories and admissions on July 9, 2010. (Doc. 34.) Defendants filed their opposition on July 26, 2010. (Doc. 37.) Plaintiff filed his reply on August 3, 2010. (Doc. 39.)
Interrogatory No. 1: Describe in as much detail as possible every CSP-Corcoran policy, procedure, and practice (in effect on September 13, 1007) that governs the use of mechanical restraints, including but not limited to their use in conjunction with temporary holding cells.
Defendant contends that this request is overly broad and vague. The Court agrees that a detailed response from Defendant would be unduly burdensome. However, Defendant may respond to such an interrogatory by producing business records that are responsive. Fed. R. Civ. P. 3(d). Plaintiff also made a substantially similar discovery request in Request For Production No. 3, Set One, to which Defendants have been ordered to provide further response. Accordingly, Defendant Gonzalez is ordered to provide further response to Interrogatory No. 1. Admission No. 1: Please admit that prior to September 13, 2007, you received training pertaining to inmates shall not wear mechanical restraints in the holding cell unless a clear danger to themselves or others exists.
Defendant Gonzalez responded, "Responding Party objects to this request on the grounds that it is overly broad, vague and ambiguous in its entirety, and unintelligible. Without waiving these objections, Responding Party admits that, before September 13, 2007, he had received training on the need and proper use of mechanical restraints on inmates that are housed in holding cells." Defendant contends that despite his objections, he responded to the best of his ability.
The purpose of a request for admission is to eliminate issues that are not in dispute between the parties. Asea, Inc. v. Southern Pacific Transport Co., 669 F.2d 1242, 245 (9th Cir. 1981). Thus, requests for admissions are not principally discovery devices and should not be used as a substitute for other discovery processes to uncover evidence. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. v. Rawstron, 181 F.R.D. 441, 445 (C.D. Cal. 1998).
Defendant in effect admits that he received training as to the proper use of mechanical restraints on inmates that are housed in holding cells before September 13, 2007, but denies the rest of Plaintiff's request for admission. The Court construes this as a sufficient response by Defendant. Plaintiff's motion to compel ...