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Craig Cooper v. Synthia Sely

April 16, 2013

CRAIG COOPER,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
SYNTHIA SELY, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael J. Seng United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO REQUEST FOR ADMISSIONS (ECF No. 30)

I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiff Craig Cooper is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action filed April 1, 2011 pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (ECF No. 1.)

This matter proceeds on Plaintiff's claims of denial of medical care and state law negligence against Defendant Sely, a Licensed Vocational Nurse ("LVN") at Pleasant Valley State Prison ("PVSP"). (ECF No. 9.) Defendant Sely filed her Answer on May 15, 2012. (ECF No. 13.) The discovery cut-off date is April 3, 2013. (ECF No. 37.) The dispositive motion deadline is June 11, 2013. (Id.) Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on April 5, 2013. (ECF No. 40.)

Now pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Further Responses to his Set One Request for Admissions filed on December 5, 2012. (ECF No. 30.) Defendant filed her opposition to the Motion on December 11, 2012. (ECF No. 33.) Plaintiff filed both a reply (ECF No. 34) and a supplemental reply (ECF No. 36) on December 26, 2013. The Court is ready to rule on Plaintiff's Motion.

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Discovery Motions

Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and he is a state prisoner challenging his conditions of confinement. As a result, the parties were relieved of some of the requirements which would otherwise apply, including initial disclosure and the need to meet and confer in good faith prior to involving the Court in a discovery dispute. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(1); Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c); Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1); Local Rules 240, 251; ECF No. 14 at ¶5.

However, regardless of Plaintiff's incarceration, this is a civil action to which the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply, and the discovery process is subject to the overriding limitation of good faith. Asea, Inc. v. Southern Pac. Transp. Co., 669 F.2d 1242, 1246 (9th Cir. 1981). Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense, and for good cause, the Court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 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.

Generally, if the responding party objects to a discovery request, the party moving to compel bears the burden of demonstrating why the objections are not justified. E.g., Grabek v. Dickinson, 2012 WL 113799, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 13, 2012); Mitchell v. Felker, 2010 WL 3835765, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Sep. 29, 2010); Ellis v. Cambra, 2008 WL 860523, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 27, 2008). This requires the moving party to inform the Court which discovery requests are the subject of the motion to compel, and, for each disputed response, why the information sought is relevant and why the responding party's objections are not meritorious. Grabek, 2012 WL 113799, at *1; Womack v. Virga, 2011 WL 6703958, at *3.

Nonetheless, the Court is vested with broad discretion to manage discovery, Hunt v. County of Orange, 672 F.3d 606, 616 (9th Cir. 2012); Surfvivor Media, Inc. v. Survivor Productions, 406 F.3d 625, 635 (9th Cir. 2005); Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002), and where the discovery request seeks information which, based on the record, is clearly within the scope of discovery and the objection lacks merit, the Court may elect to exercise its discretion to reach the merits of the dispute, the moving party's initial burden notwithstanding. Marti v. Baires, 2012 WL 2029720, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Jun. 5, 2012); Williams v. Adams, 2009 WL 1220311, at *1 (E.D. Cal. May 4, 2009).

Courts in the Eastern District of California have required, "at a minimum, [that] the moving party plaintiff has the burden of informing the court (1) which discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel, (2) which of the defendant's responses are disputed, (3) why he believes the defendant's responses are deficient, (4) why the defendant's objections are not justified, and (5) why the information he seeks through discovery is relevant to the prosecution of this action." Walker v. Karelas, 2009 WL 3075575 at *1 (September 21, 2009); Brooks v. Alameida, 2009 WL 331358 at *2 (February 10, 2009).

The court must limit discovery if the burden of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2) (C)(iii). "In each instance [of discovery], the determination whether . . . information is discoverable because it is relevant to the claims or defenses depends on the circumstances of the pending action." Fed. R. ...


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