United States District Court, E.D. California
August 12, 2014
CIRON B. SPRINGFIELD, Plaintiff,
VIMAL J. SINGH, et al., Defendants. CIRON B. SPRINGFIELD, Plaintiff,
V K. ALLEN, et al., Defendants.
ALLISON CLAIRE, Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff, a state prisoner proceeding pro se, seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S. § 1983. By Order filed on January 28, 2014, the above-captioned cases were related. In Case No. 2:12-cv-2552, defendants have filed: (1) a motion for summary judgment predicated on plaintiff's alleged failure to have exhausted administrative remedies, ECF No. 51, and (2) a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), ECF No. 54. Defendants in Case No. 2:12-cv-2552 have also filed a motion for a protective order seeking a stay of discovery pending adjudication of the motions at ECF Nos. 51 and 54 therein, (ECF No. 65) and, evidently in the alternative, a subsequent motion for a sixty-day extension of time to respond to plaintiff's requests for production of documents (ECF No. 69).
Motion for a Protective Order - Case No. 12-2552
Defendants move for a protective order under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c), seeking to be relieved of the obligation to respond to plaintiff's recently served discovery requests and to stay future discovery until such time as the motions to dismiss and for summary judgment have been adjudicated. ECF No. 65. Plaintiff served defendants with requests for production of documents on July 10, 2014. Id., Declaration of James Mathison ¶ 2, and Exhibit A at ECF No. 65-1.
The scope of discovery under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1) is broad. Discovery may be obtained as to "any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense-including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter." Id . Discovery may extend to relevant information not admissible at trial "if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id . The court, however, may limit discovery if it is "unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, " or can be obtained from another source "that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive"; or if the party who seeks discovery "has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery"; or if the proposed discovery is overly burdensome. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C)(i), (ii) and (iii).
The Federal Rules provide that good cause is required in order for a party to obtain a protective order. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c); Kiblen v. Retail Credit Co. , 76 F.R.D. 402, 404 (E.D. Wash. 1977). "Good cause" exists when justice requires the protection of "a party or person from any annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). To prevail on a motion for a protective order, the party seeking the protection has the burden to demonstrate "particular and specific demonstration[s] of fact, as distinguished from conclusory statements...." Twin City Fire Ins. Co. v. Employers Ins. of Wausau , 124 F.R.D. 652, 653 (D.Nev. 1989); Kamp Implement Co. v. J.I. Case Co. , 630 F.Supp. 218, 219 (D.Mont. 1986). "The district court has wide discretion in controlling discovery." Little v. City of Seattle , 863 F.2d 681, 684 (9th Cir. 1988) (discovery stayed until question of immunity decided in order to promote judicial efficiency). The determination must be made on a case-by-case basis. Skellerup Ind. Ltd. v. City of Los Angeles , 163 F.R.D. 598, 601 (C.D. Cal. 1995).
In this case, defendants observe that their pending motions are potentially case dispositive and that plaintiff has opposed the motions without demonstrating the need for discovery in order to do so. ECF No. 65 at 5. Even if the motions do not resolve this case, as defendants further observe, their outcome will affect the discovery process by clarifying the scope of discovery that is permissible and by determining the relevance of the discovery requests. ECF No. 65 at 4, citing Wood v. McEwan , 644 F.2d 797, 801 (9th Cir. 1981) per curiam (discovery may be limited for "good cause" and "court may continue to stay discovery when it is convinced that the plaintiff will be unable to state a claim for relief"). In addition, a Scheduling and Discovery Order has not yet issued in this case. The court finds that defendants should not be subjected to the undue burden or expense of responding to discovery which may ultimately prove not to be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of relevant evidence.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that:
1. Defendants' motion for a protective order, ECF No. 65 in No. 2:12-cv-2552 KJM AC P, seeking a stay of discovery pending resolution of the motion for summary judgment on grounds of a failure to exhaust administrative remedies and the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim is granted; and,
2. Defendants' motion for an extension of time to respond to plaintiff's request for production of documents, ECF No. 69 in