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Kevin Darnell Bryant v. Seleaina Ann Thomas

June 1, 2012

KEVIN DARNELL BRYANT, PLAINTIFF,
v.
SELEAINA ANN THOMAS, ET AL.,
DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hon. Mitchell D. Dembin U.S. Magistrate Judge

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL [Doc. No. 70]

On April 9, 2012, Plaintiff in the above-entitled matter filed a Motion to Compel. (Doc. No. 70). On April 27, 2012, Defendants filed a Response in Opposition. (Doc. No. 74). In his Motion, Plaintiff contends that Defendants have refused to provide him with requested discovery, and that Defendants' objections to producing discovery are meritless. (Doc. No. 70). In their Response, Defendants contend that Plaintiff's Motion should be denied because it fails to state why Plaintiff is entitled to relief. (Doc. No. 74).

Background

In his First Amended Complaint, Plaintiff, a state prisoner, alleges that Defendant Thomas, a family nurse practitioner, was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when she repeatedly refused to treat him after an injury. Plaintiff states that he fell from the top bunk of his cell three times, and then requested medical treatment. Plaintiff contends that Defendants repeatedly ignored his requests for treatment and deliberately hindered his recovery. Id. Specifically, Plaintiff contends that Defendant Thomas refused to honor his previously issued medical chrono, forced him to return a neck brace even though he still needed it, and failed to prescribe pain medication. (FAC at ¶7-30).

Legal Standard

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure generally allow for broad discovery, authorizing parties to obtain discovery regarding "any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). Also, "[f]or good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action." Id. Relevant information for discovery purposes includes any information "reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence," and need not be admissible at trial to be discoverable. Id. There is no requirement that the information sought directly relate to a particular issue in the case. Rather, relevance encompasses any matter that "bears on" or could reasonably lead to matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be presented in the case. Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 354 (1978). District courts have broad discretion to determine relevancy for discovery purposes. See Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002). Similarly, district courts have broad discretion to limit discovery where the discovery sought is "unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C). Limits also should be imposed where the burden or expense outweighs the likely benefits.

A party may request the production of any document within the scope of Rule 26(b). Fed. R. Civ. P. 34(a). "For each item or category, the response must either state that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested or state an objection to the request, including the reasons." Id. at 34(b). The responding party is responsible for all items in "the responding party's possession, custody, or control." Id. at 34(a)(1). Actual possession, custody or control is not required. Rather, "[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).

A motion to compel is appropriate where a party fails to produce relevant, non-privileged documents requested pursuant to Rule 34. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(3). The party seeking the motion to compel discovery has the burden of informing the court why the defendant's objections are not justified or why the defendants' responses are deficient. Id.

Discussion

As an initial matter, Defendants contend that Plaintiff's Motion should be dismissed because Plaintiff has not stated with particularity the grounds upon which he is entitled to relief. Id. at 2. Defendants assert that Plaintiff fails to address Defendants' specific objections or give a reasonable explanation as to why the Court should compel responses to his request for the production of documents.

Plaintiff does make specific arguments with regard to his Requests for Production of Documents Nos. 14 and 15. As to these requests, Plaintiff addresses Defendants' objections, and explains why he believes he is entitled to the requested discovery. (Doc. No. 70 at 4).

As to the rest of Plaintiff's requests, however, the Court agrees with Defendants that Plaintiff has failed to state with specificity why he is entitled to discovery. Plaintiff's conclusory assertion that Defendants' objections are in bad faith are not grounds for granting his Motion. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(3). Nevertheless, out of abundance of caution the Court conducted an independent review of Plaintiff's requests and Defendants' responses and finds that Defendants' objections are proper, and that no additional discovery is warranted. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED as to all requests for discovery other than his Requests for the Production of Documents Nos. 14 and 15.

As to Plaintiff's Requests for the Production of Documents Nos. 14 and 15, Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED ...


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