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Wheeler v. Allison

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 24, 2014

ERIC WHEELER, Plaintiff,
v.
ALLISON, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (Documents 48)

LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL, District Judge.

Plaintiff Eric Wheeler ("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. ยง 1983.

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff filed this action on May 25, 2012. On March 11, 2013, the Court determined that the action should proceed on Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims against Defendants Allison, Duck, Murrieta, Lowder, Loftis, Ross, Mui, Neubarth and Ancheta.

Defendants Allison, Duck, Murrieta, Lowder, Loftis and Neubarth filed an answer on January 14, 2014. On January 17, 2014, the Court issued a Discovery and Scheduling Order. Part I of the Order requires the parties to provide initial disclosures, including names of witnesses and production of documents.

Defendants Allison, Duck, Murrieta, Lowder, Loftis and Neubarth filed a Request for Reconsideration of Part I of the Discovery and Scheduling Order. Plaintiff filed his opposition on February 10, 2014. The matter is deemed submitted pursuant to Local Rule 230(l).

Due to differing dates of service, Defendant Ancheta filed an answer on February 12, 2014, and Defendant Ross filed an answer on February 18, 2014. The Court has not yet ordered the Discovery and Scheduling Order applicable to Defendants Ancheta or Ross because of this motion.

A waiver of service filed on January 14, 2014, indicates that Defendant Mui has been served, though an answer has not yet been filed.

LEGAL STANDARD

Defendants move for reconsideration pursuant to Local Rule 303(c), which permits District Judge review of a Magistrate Judge's order. Local Rule 303(a) incorporates the "clearly erroneous" or "contrary to law" standard set forth in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a). Thus, the District Judge must "modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or is contrary to law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a).

DISCUSSION

Defendants correctly argue that Part I of the Discovery and Scheduling Order requires the parties to engage in disclosures similar to those required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1). Defendants are also correct in that Plaintiff is a pro se prisoner, and that such actions are generally exempt from initial disclosure requirements.

Defendants are incorrect, however, insofar as they argue that the Discovery and Scheduling Order is an improper "standing order" meant to modify the initial disclosure requirements. As the Court has previously explained in numerous prisoner actions where the Discovery and Scheduling Order has been issued, the order is a case-specific order that issued in this action "[t]o expedite the fair disposition of this action and to discourage wasteful pretrial activities." Therefore, the order is proper since "even in a case excluded..., the court can order exchange of similar information in managing the action under rule 16." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1) Advisory Committee Note of 2000. The fact that a similar order has issued in other prisoner cases does not transform the order into a formal, or informal, standing order. Indeed, if there is an instance where initial disclosures are not warranted, the Court will not issue an order requiring their exchange.

The Court notes that the discovery order at issue, which has been used and upheld in other actions in this Court, was implemented in light of the numerous discovery issues that were arising with increasing frequency in other pro se prisoner actions. Defendants' discovery practices were bordering on unnecessarily obstructive, and these tactics caused numerous discovery disputes that required extensive Court ...


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