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Robert Earl Samuels v. G. Adame

September 28, 2011

ROBERT EARL SAMUELS,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
G. ADAME, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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 MOTION TO COMPEL (DOC. 35)

I. Background

Plaintiff Robert Earl Samuels ("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 against Defendants Adame, Farnsworth, Gentry, Medrano, Nicholas, Rivera, Sailer, and Snyder. Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to compel, filed May 23, 2011. Doc. 35. Defendants filed their opposition on June 8, 2011. Doc. 36. The matter is submitted pursuant to Local Rule 230(l).

II. Motion To Compel

A. Production Of Documents

In responding to discovery requests for production of documents, Defendants must produce documents which are in their "possession, custody or control." Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(a). Actual possession, custody or control is not required, however. "A party may be ordered to produce a document in the possession of a non-party entity if that party has a legal right to obtain the document or has control over the entity who is in possession of the document. Soto v. City of Concord, 162 F.R.D. 603, 620 (N.D. Cal. 1995). As this Court explained in Allen v. Woodford, 2007, U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11026, *4-6, 2007 WL 309945, *2 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 30, 2007) (internal citations and quotations omitted):

Property is deemed within a party's possession, custody, or control if the party has actual possession, custody, or control thereof or the legal right to obtain the property on demand. A party having actual possession of documents must allow discovery even if the documents belong to someone else; legal ownership of the documents is not determinative. Control need not be actual control; courts construe it broadly as the legal right to obtain documents upon demand. Legal right is evaluated in the context of the facts of each case. The determination of control is often fact specific. Central to each case is the relationship between the party and the person or entity having actual possession of the document. The requisite relationship is one where a party can order the person or entity in actual possession of the documents to release them. This position of control is usually the result of statute, affiliation or employment. Control may be established by the existence of a principal-agent relationship.

Such documents also include documents under the control of the party's attorney. Meeks v. Parson, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90283, 2009 WL 3303718 (E.D. Cal. September 18, 2009) (involving a subpoena to the CDCR); Axler v. Scientific Ecology Group, Inc., 196 F.R.D. 210, 212 (D. Mass. 2000) (A "party must product otherwise discoverable documents that are in his attorneys' possession, custody or control."); Gray v. Faulkner, 148 F.R.D. 220, 223 (N.D. Ill. 1992).

The California Code of Regulations defines access to a prisoner's case records: No case records file, unit health records, or component thereof shall be released to any agency or person outside the department, except for private attorneys hired to represent the department, the office of the attorney general, the Board of Parole Hearings, the Inspector General, and as provided by applicable federal and state law. Any outside person or entity that receives case records files or unit health records is subject to all legal and departmental standards for the integrity and confidentiality of those documents.

Cal. Code Regs. tit. 15, § 3370(e). The Attorney General's office for the State of California represents these Defendants, and thus can obtain these records pursuant to the Code of Regulations. See Bovarie v. Schwarzenegger, 2011 WL 719206, *4 (S.D. Cal. Feb. 22, 2011); see also Woodall v. California, 2010 W.L. 4316953, *5 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 22, 2010); Ochotorena v. Adams, 2010 WL 1035774, * 3 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2010); Moody v. Finander, 2010 WL 3911462 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 1, 2010).

B. Analysis

Plaintiff seeks to compel further response to Requests For Production Of Documents Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, and 10.

Request No. 1: "A copy of the letter plaintiffs cellmate (inmate Green K-29392) authored which caused defendants to come and escort plaintiff of his assigned housing/cell, on October 15, 2007, at C.C.I."

Response: Defendants object to this request on the grounds that it seeks irrelevant information not calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Without waiving this objection, Defendants do not have possession, ...


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