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Brown v. Deputy

United States District Court, S.D. California

March 4, 2014

DEPUTY #1, Deputy Sheriff; et al., Defendants.


BERNARD G. SKOMAL, Magistrate Judge.


Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff's original complaint, filed August 6, 2012, alleges Sheriff William Gore, Captain Frank C. Clamser, Deputy Erick Villareal, Deputy Jason Weber and various Doe Deputies violated his Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment by subjecting him to verbal harassment on April 21, 2012 and April 23, 2012 as well as an incident of excessive force on May 2, 2012. (Doc. No. 1.) On August 21, 2012, the Court dismissed Defendants William Gore and Frank Clamser pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1915(e)(2) and 1915A(b) for failing to state a claim. (Doc. No. 6.) On October 8, 2012, the Court granted Plaintiff leave to amend his complaint to add Deputy Garcia, Henton, Pierson, Lawson, and Whittaker as Defendants. (Doc. No. 113.)

On October 15, 2013, Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint which repeated the allegations in Plaintiff's original complaint and included the Deputy Defendants that Plaintiff was granted leave to add. Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint also added Registered Nurse Clarissa Cawagas and Dr. John Serra, as well as included an additional cause of action for a violation of Plaintiff's right to medical care. (Doc. No. 117 at 12-13.) Defendants Cawagas and Serra have filed a motion to strike and motions to dismiss which are currently pending before the Court. (Doc. Nos. 143, 144 and 146.)

On May 17, 2013, Plaintiff served five subpoenas on the "San Diego County Jails, " through the Legal Affairs Division of the Sheriff's Department. (Doc. No. 84-3 at 3.) These subpoenas requested the following information:

(1) "All use of force reports that evidence mention, or refer to any and all use of force incidents on Deputy-on-inmate force at all San Diego County Jails that have occurred within the last 10 years (May-1-2003)."
(2) "All employment records, files, staff discipline, internal affairs complaint for the defendants: Erick Villareal #3997, Scott Henton #3002, Jason Weber #7313, Robert Pierson #3041, Lauset Garcia #3066, L. Whittaker #7137, Michael Lawson #4209, Clarissa Cawagas #6557, and Doctor John Serra."
(3) "All documents that evidence, mention, or refer to, all records of the Dept. concerning formal reports, oral conversations made by superior officers, letters, emails, all transcriptions, notes, memoranda etc. that mention or refer to the incidents on April 21, 2012, April 23, 2012, May 2, 2012 concerning the Plaintiff and/or staff member."
(4) "All video surveillance of House 3 inside and out on May 2, 2012 from 8AM-11AM."
(5) "(1) Complete medical and psych file including all electronically stored information and Doctors notes. (2) [sic] File complete including all felonies ever convicted of, all notes emails etc between staff about the incident on April 12, 23; May 2, 2012."

(Doc. No. 84-3 at 6-22.)

On June 28, 2013, Defendants filed a motion for protective order and a motion to quash the five subpoenas described above. (Doc. No. 84.) Defendants assert the subpoenas are not relevant to the issues in this matter, the subpoenas are unduly burdensome, and the subpoenas seek privileged information. (Doc. No. 84 at 7-14.) On July 19, 2013, Plaintiff filed an opposition. (Doc. No. 91.)

On February 10, 2014, Defendants filed a motion to quash nine subpoenas which were issued to the newly added Defendants in this action - Michael Lawson, Lloyd Whittaker, Lauset Garcia, Scott Henton and Robert Pierson, as well to third-party, the County of San Diego, which was erroneously named in the subpoenas as "George Bailey Detention Facility and/or San Diego Sheriff's Department. The five subpoenas issued to the newly-added Defendants request each defendant's: "complete employment record, files, staff discipline, internal affairs complaint." (Doc No. 165.) The four subpoenas issued to third party County of San Diego request:

(1) "Statement of inmate witness Steve Griffee of the incident on 5/2/12"
(2) "Copy of the floor plan of 3 house including the entrance gate, all hallways, doorways, etc."
(3) "Any and all new rules that were put into effect on 5-2-12 to present about searches of inmates"
(4) "Any designated documents or electronically stores [sic] information - including writings drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations - stored in any medium from which information can be obtained either directly, or if necessary, after translation by the responding party into reasonably usable form [sic] all 3 incidents in this case."

Defendants argue the nine subpoenas, which were newly served on January 29, 2014, must be quashed because they are untimely, irrelevant, overbroad and unduly burdensome, seek privileged information and are beyond the scope of the Court's November 25, 2013 discovery order, which permitted an extension of fact discovery only as to the five newly added defendants in the action. (Doc No. 165-1 at pp. 6-10.)


The legal standard applicable to discovery is broad. See Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978). Generally, relevant information is discoverable. Id . Discoverable information need not be admissible at trial so long as it is "reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). However, relevancy is not without "ultimate and necessary boundaries." Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947). Accordingly, district courts have broad discretion to determine relevancy for discovery purposes. Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002).

District courts also have broad discretion to limit discovery. For example, a court may limit the scope of any discovery method if it determines that the discovery sought is "unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C). Similarly, district courts are directed to limit discovery where ...

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