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Roberts v. California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 8, 2014



ALLISON CLAIRE, Magistrate Judge.

I. Procedural History

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se who seeks relief pursuant to Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This action was removed by defendants from state court and is proceeding on the Second Amended Complaint. ECF No. 9

On December 11, 2012, the court issued an order to show cause and ordered that all pending deadlines were held in abeyance pending resolution of plaintiff's motion to extend the discovery deadline based on the removal of his case file by prison authorities. ECF No. 23. By Order of July 19, 2013, this Court found no basis "for extending or re-opening discovery in this case, " but due to the circumstances presented, granted plaintiff leave to serve one set of requests for admissions on defendant. ECF No. 33 at 4.

On August 5, 2013, after the discovery deadline had passed, plaintiff filed a motion to compel responses to his first request for production of documents propounded in the summer of 2012. Specifically, plaintiff seeks the specific policies, procedures and practices at High Desert State Prison and a copy of his medical records from July 2008. See ECF No. 34. Defendant filed an untimely opposition to this motion, together with a motion for leave to oppose out of time. ECF Nos. 35, 36.

II. Timeliness of Motion to Compel

While the court does not look favorably on the filing of a motion to compel discovery more than a year after plaintiff received defendant's response to his request for production of documents, the court also notes the delay that has been caused by defense counsel's failure to timely comply with court orders and deadlines in this case. See ECF Nos. 27 (noting failure to respond to order to show cause); 44 (granting an extension of time of the dispositive motions deadline); 42 (same); 38 (same). In light of the litigation delays attributable to both parties, the court will exercise its discretion and entertain plaintiff's untimely motion to compel as well as defendant's untimely opposition thereto.

The parties are further advised and cautioned that requests for extensions of time are the exception and not the norm. Multiple motions for extensions of time burden this court's already over-burdened docket and should not be filed in a piecemeal manner. See Local Rule 144(d).

III. Motion to Compel Further Response to Requests for Production of Documents

Plaintiff seeks to compel further responses to his requests for production (RFP) nos. 1-6 and 9 directed to the CDCR, in order to obtain the policies, practices, and procedures specific to High Desert State Prison as well as his prison medical records from July 2008. ECF No. 34 at 2-4. Plaintiff indicates that he signed a release form requesting a copy of his prison medical records on December 31, 2012, but was later informed that he did not have adequate funds on his prison trust account to pay the costs associated with copying them. ECF No. 34 at 13 (declaration of Paul Dean Roberts). As a result, plaintiff requests that a copy be provided free of charge by defendant.[1] Id.

In opposition, defendant CDCR noted that documents responsive to plaintiff's RFP nos. 1-6 had just been located concerning the specific polices of the Central Treatment Center at High Desert State Prison where plaintiff was housed in July 2008. See ECF Nos. 36, 36-3 at 7-19. Therefore, defendant has supplemented their initial response to requests for production nos. 1-6. ECF No. 36-3 at 7-19. Defendant continues to object to request for production no. 9 related to plaintiff's prison medical records from July 2008 arguing that they are equally available for plaintiff's inspection and copying at his current prison. ECF Nos. 36 at 4, 36-1 at 5-6.

III. Legal Standard

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged 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. See e.g., Grabek v. Dickinson , 2012 WL 113799, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Jan.13, 2012); Womack v. Virga , 2011 WL 6703958, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 21, 2011). 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 , 2011 WL 6703958, at *3.

The Court is vested with broad discretion to manage discovery, Hunt v. County of Orange , 672 F.3d 606, 616 (9th Cir. 2012); Survivor 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. See e.g., 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). 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.Civ.P. 26 Advisory Committee's Note (2000 Amendment) (Gap Report) (Subdivision (b)(1).

III. Analysis

Based on defendant's supplemental response of October 22, 2013, it now appears that plaintiff's motion to compel additional responses to his requests for production (RFP) nos. 1-6 is moot. The motion will accordingly be denied on this ground.

Regarding plaintiff's motion to compel a copy of his prison medical records, the court notes that plaintiff's second amended complaint alleges that he is a wheelchair-bound inmate who was discriminated against solely on account of his disability. Specifically, plaintiff alleges that after medical staff changed his mobility impairment designation, he needed placement in a wheelchair accessible cell at HDSP. ECF No. 9 at 7. Because there were no wheelchair accessible cells available, plaintiff was moved to the Correctional Treatment Center (CTC) at High Desert State Prison on July 4, 2008. ECF No. 9 at 8-9. Plaintiff alleges that while housed in the CTC he was denied access to his property, as well as yard and canteen privileges. Id . On August 1, 2008, plaintiff alleges that his disability designation code was once again changed to part-time wheelchair use not based on his improved medical condition, but rather due to the ongoing lack of a wheelchair accessible cell at HDSP. Id. at 11. Plaintiff therefore alleges that the CDCR violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Based on these allegations, plaintiff's medical records from July 2008 appear relevant to plaintiff's claims. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). While plaintiff's placement in the CTC was allegedly due to an ADA housing shortage and not any decline in his medical condition, CDCR documents indicate that he was returned to HDSP when his health improved to the point that he no longer needed a wheelchair full-time. See ECF No. 9 at 51. Defendant does not contend that responding to this request would be overly burdensome. In fact, defendant submits plaintiff's medical records from 2008 through 2011 as exhibits attached to its motion for summary judgment. See ECF Nos. 46-5 at 9-102, 46-6 at 1-88. However, there are no records from July 2008 included in these exhibits. Therefore, to the extent any such records exist, plaintiff's motion to compel additional responses to his requests for production (RFP) no. 9 will be granted.

IV. Summary Judgment Opposition Deadline

The Court takes notice that defendant filed a motion for summary judgment while plaintiff's motion to compel was pending. Plaintiff's opposition to the summary judgment motion is currently due by January 26, 2014. See ECF No. 44. Given the extensions of the dispositive motions deadline that have been granted to defendant as well as plaintiff's pro se status, the Court finds good cause to extend plaintiff's deadline to submit his opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment.

Based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that:

1. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel further production of documents from defendant CDCR (ECF No. 34) is granted in part and denied in part as follows:

a) Denied as to RFP Nos. 1-6 based on mootness;
b) Granted as to RFP No. 9.

2. Defendant is ordered to provide a copy of plaintiff's medical records from July 2008 within 30 days from the date of this order.

3. Plaintiff's time to file an opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 46) is extended to thirty days from the date of receipt of his medical records from defendant.

3. Defendant's reply, if any, shall be filed within seven days thereafter.

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