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William B. Pruitt v. Clark

October 17, 2011

WILLIAM B. PRUITT,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
CLARK, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



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

ORDER DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO SERVE ADDITIONAL INTERROGATORIES, WITHOUT PREJUDICE, AND DENYING MOTION TO COMPEL AS MOOT (Docs. 39 and 41)

ORDER PERMITTING PARTIES TO FILE STATUS REPORTS WITHIN FORTY-FIVE DAYS IF FURTHER DISCOVERY IS NEEDED (Doc. 44)

Order on Plaintiff's Discovery Motions

I. Summary of Pending Motions

Plaintiff William B. Pruitt, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, filed this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on November 26, 2007. This action is proceeding on Plaintiff's amended complaint against Defendants Swinford,*fn1 Bonilla, Lara,*fn2 Curtiss, and Wan for violation of the Fourth Amendment arising out of the routine cross-gender strip searches occurring in work change at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility in Corcoran.

On July 5, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking leave of court to serve interrogatories in excess of twenty-five, and on July 26, 2011, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel Defendant Curtiss to respond to Plaintiff's second set of interrogatories. Defendants filed oppositions on July 12, 2011, and August 16, 2011, respectively. No replies were filed, and the motions have been submitted. Local Rule 230(l).

II. Motion for Leave to Serve Excess Interrogatories

Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure limits interrogatories to twenty-five, including discrete subparts, per party. The Court may grant leave to serve additional interrogatories to the extent consistent with Rule 26(b)(2). The limitation is not intended "to prevent needed discovery, but to provide judicial scrutiny before parties make potentially excessive use of this discovery device," and "[i]n many cases, it will be appropriate for the court ot permit a larger number of interrogatories . . . ." Advisory Committee Notes to the 1993 Amendments of Fed. R. Civ. P. 33.

Plaintiff apparently seeks leave to serve each of the five defendants with up to an additional twenty-five interrogatories. The subject matter of the proposed interrogatories was not provided, although Plaintiff included his second set of interrogatories served on Defendant Lara as an exhibit.

The Court will not grant any party leave to serve interrogatories in excess of twenty-five in the absence of information sufficient to allow the Court to scrutinize the request and ensure it is not excessive. Eichler v. Tilton, No. CIV S-06-2894-JAM-CMK-P, 2010 WL 457334, at *1 (E.D.Cal. Feb. 3, 2010) ("Plaintiff is required to make some showing as to the reasons for his request to propound extra interrogatories, so that the court may make a determination as to the necessity therefor.") Therefore, Plaintiff's blanket request to serve additional interrogatories is denied, without prejudice.

With regard to the specific interrogatories Defendant Lara declined to answer given the limitation, Plaintiff sought to know (1) whether Defendant Lara had ever been inside of work change while prisoners were being processed out of work change on Facility B; (2) whether Defendant Lara, while working in Facility B work change, had ever processed prison work cards out to make sure no prisoners were left in vocational; and (3) whether it is the duty of officers working in work change to process out the prisoners' work cards from inside work change. (Doc. 39, Motion, court record p. 7, ROGs 10-12.) In Plaintiff's first set of interrogatories, Defendant Lara responded, in relevant part, that she worked inside the work change building while inmates were being processed through the building and she would process gate passes and answer the phones. (Doc. 40, Opp., Ex. A.)

It appears from these responses to the first set of interrogatories that Plaintiff is in possession of the basic information he seeks in his second set of interrogatories. The Court may not permit discovery which is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C)(i). The Court is mindful that Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and the Court does not hold Plaintiff to the same standard as it would an attorney. Nevertheless, there is no justification for requiring Defendant Lara to respond to interrogatories in the excess of twenty-five when her responses would not provide Plaintiff with any new information. The Court is somewhat hampered in that Plaintiff has not set forth any specific argument regarding these interrogatories, but based on a review of the record, it is the Court's conclusion that Plaintiff is in possession of the basic information that Defendant Lara worked inside the work change building and she processed gate passes.

The parties will be permitted to file status reports within the next forty-five days setting forth what further discovery, if any, they need to conduct. If Plaintiff wishes to renew his request for leave to serve additional interrogatories, he may do so, but his request must include the proposed interrogatories and it is Plaintiff's duty to ensure that he ...


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