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Brandon Rackliffe v. P. Rocha

April 6, 2012

BRANDON RACKLIFFE,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
P. ROCHA, 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. 79)

Plaintiff Brandon Rackliffe ("Plaintiff") is a prisoner in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR"). Plaintiff is proceeding pro se in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action is proceeding on Plaintiff's amended complaint against Defendants Rocha and Medina for excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to compel, filed December 13, 2011. Doc. 79. Defendants filed their opposition on January 2, 2012. Doc. 80. Plaintiff filed his reply on January 11, 2012. Doc. 81. The matter is submitted pursuant to Local Rule 230(l).

I. Motion To Compel

This motion to compel is the third iteration. Plaintiff filed his first motion to compel on July 1, 2010. Doc. 46. The Court denied the motion without prejudice to amending on February 2, 2011. Doc. 53. On April 20, 2011, Plaintiff filed his amended motions to compel. Docs. 59 to 63. On October 13, 2011, the Court again denied Plaintiff's motion, with leave to amend. Doc. 74. Pending is Plaintiff's motion, filed December 13, 2011. Plaintiff moves to compel further response to the following: 1) Plaintiff's Request For Admissions to Defendant Rocha Nos. 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23, and 24; 2) Plaintiff's Request For Production of Documents to Defendant Rocha Nos. 1 through 25; 3) Plaintiff's Interrogatories to Defendant Rocha Nos. 1 through 23; 4) Plaintiff's Request For Admissions to Defendant Medina Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, and 24; 5) Plaintiff's Request For Production of Documents to Defendant Medina Nos. 1 through 25; and 6) Plaintiff's Interrogatories to Defendant Medina Nos. 1 through 23.*fn1

A. Request For Admissions

1. Legal Standard

A party may serve on any other party a written request to admit, for purposes of the pending action, the truth of any matters within the scope of Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(1). "Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense -- including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter." Id. 26(b)(1). "Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id.

2. Admissions To Defendant Rocha

Plaintiff submits a document entitled "Plaintiff Brandon Woody Rackliffe's Supplemental Motion to Compel Defendant P. Rocha's Response to Request for Admissions." Doc. 79-1. Plaintiff purports to list his disputes with Defendant Rocha's objections to his request for admissions. A review of Defendant Rocha's responses, however, indicates that Defendant Rocha did not object to Plaintiff's Requests for Admissions.*fn2 Defendant Rocha either admitted or denied almost all of Plaintiff's Request For Admissions, which is an appropriate answer. Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(4) ("If a matter is not admitted, the answer must specifically deny it or state in detail why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny it."). Defendant Rocha did not provide a response to Request For Admission No. 25. Plaintiff request states, "Admit P. Rocha was previously employed at Pleasant Valley State Prison." Defendant Rocha's response is, "Responding Party does not understand the question." However, Plaintiff's December 13, 2011 motion to compel fails to explain why Defendant Rocha's response was inadequate, or the relevance of the discovery request. Plaintiff has not demonstrated why Defendant Rocha should be compelled to provide further response. Thus, Plaintiff's motion to compel further response to Requests For Admissions served on Defendant Rocha are denied.

3. Admissions To Defendant Medina

Plaintiff submits a document entitled "Plaintiff Brandon Woody Rackliffe's Supplemental Motion to Compel Defendant J. Medina's Response to Request for Admissions." Doc. 79-6. Plaintiff purports to list his disputes with Defendant Medina's objections to his request for admissions, and why Defendant Medina's responses were inadequate. A review of Defendant Medina's responses, however, indicates that Defendant Medina either admitted or denied all of Plaintiff's Requests For Admissions. As stated previously, such answers are appropriate. Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(4). Plaintiff has not demonstrated why Defendant Medina should be compelled to provide further response. Thus, Plaintiff's motion to compel further response to Requests For Admissions served on Defendant Medina are denied.

B. Interrogatories

1. Legal Standard

An interrogatory may relate to any matter that may be inquired into under Rule 26(b) [of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure]." Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(a)(2); see also id. 26(b)(1) ("Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense -- including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter.").

The responding party is obligated to respond to the interrogatories to the fullest extent possible, Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(3), and any objections must be stated with specificity, Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(4). The responding party shall use common sense and reason. E.g., Collins v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., No. 06-2466-CM-DJW, 2008 WL 1924935, *8 (D. Kan. Apr. 30, 2008). A responding party is not generally required to conduct extensive research in order to answer an interrogatory, but a reasonable effort to respond must be made. L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, No. S-06-2042 LKK GGH, 2007 WL 2781132, *2 (E.D. Cal. Sep. 21, 2007). Further, the responding party has a duty to supplement any responses if the information sought is later obtained or the response provided needs correction. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(e)(1).

2. Interrogatories To Defendant Rocha

Plaintiff was required to cure deficiencies in his motion to compel by "informing the court which discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel, which of Defendants' responses are disputed why he believes Defendants' responses are deficient, why Defendants' objections are not justified, and why the information he seeks through discovery is relevant to the prosecution of this action." Haynes v. Sisto, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121246, at *2-3 (E. D. Cal. Oct. 29, 2010). Plaintiff's motion includes arguments as to why correctional officers failed to obtain inmate witnesses after the use of force on July 26, 2006, and inconsistencies in the reports filed regarding the incident. That is not informative as to which discovery requests are the subject of the motion to compel, why Defendants' responses are deficient, and the relevance of the requests. A motion to compel is a means of compelling discovery responses. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(3)(B). Plaintiff only lists Interrogatories Nos. 7, 8, 9, and 10 to Defendant Rocha. The Court will consider only the interrogatories Plaintiff specifically listed and addressed in his motion.

Interrog. No. 7: Identify all policy and procedures involved with the release of inmates to access the exercise yard.

Interrog. No. 8: Identify all policy and procedures involved with (RDO), regular day off, yard access in ...


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