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Reyes v. Singh

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 14, 2014

BENITO REYES, Plaintiff,
J. SINGH, et al., Defendants.


GARY S. AUSTIN, Magistrate Judge.


Benito Reyes ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action proceeds on Plaintiff's original Complaint, filed on March 3, 2011, against Dr. Chinyere Nyenke and Nurse Rose Martinez ("Defendants"), for inadequate medical care in violation of the Eighth Amendment.[1] (Doc. 1.)

On February 24, 2014, the Court issued a Scheduling Order establishing a deadline of October 24, 2014, for the parties to complete discovery, including the filing of motions to compel. (Doc. 20.) The Scheduling Order required the parties to serve responses to written discovery requests within forty-five days after the request is first served. (Id. ¶ 2.)

On July 14, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel production of documents from Defendants. (Doc. 26.) On July 23, 2014, Defendants filed an opposition to the motion. (Doc. 27.) On August 4, 2014, Plaintiff filed a reply to the opposition. (Doc. 28.)

Plaintiff's motion to compel is now before the court.


A. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26(b), 34, and 37(a)

Under Rule 26(b), "[U]nless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense C 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. For good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action.[2] "Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).

Pursuant to Rule 34(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "any party may serve on any other party a request to produce and permit the party making the request... to inspect and copy any designated documents... which are in the possession, custody or control of the party upon whom the request is served." Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a)(1). "[A] party need not have actual possession of documents to be deemed in control of them." Clark v. Vega Wholesale Inc. , 181 F.R.D. 470, 472 (D.Nev. 1998) quoting Estate of Young v. Holmes , 134 F.R.D. 291, 294 (D.Nev. 1991). "A party that has a legal right to obtain certain documents is deemed to have control of the documents." Clark , 181 F.R.D. at 472; Allen v. Woodford, No. CV-F-05-1104 OWW LJO , 2007 WL 309945, *2 (E.D.Cal. Jan. 30, 2007) (citing In re Bankers Trust Co. , 61 F.3d 465, 469 (6th Cir.1995)); accord Evans v. Tilton, No. 1:07CV01814 DLB PC , 2010 WL 1136216, at *1 (E.D.Cal. Mar. 19, 2010).

Under Rule 34(b), the party to whom the request is directed must respond in writing that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested, or state an objection to the request, including the reasons. Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2). Also, "[a] party must produce documents as they are kept in the usual course of business or must organize and label them to correspond to the categories in the request." Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(E)(I).

Pursuant to Rule 37(a), a party propounding discovery may seek an order compelling disclosure when an opposing party has failed to respond or has provided evasive or incomplete responses. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). "[A]n evasive or incomplete disclosure, answer, or response must be treated as a failure to disclose, answer, or respond." Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4). "It is well established that a failure to object to discovery requests within the time required constitutes a waiver of any objection." Richmark Corp. v. Timber Falling Consultants , 959 F.2d 1468, 1473 (9th Cir. 1992) (citing Davis v. Fendler , 650 F.2d 1154, 1160 (9th Cir. 1981)). The moving party bears the burden of demonstrating "actual and substantial prejudice" from the denial of discovery. See Hallett v. Morgan , 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002) (citations omitted.).

Parties' Positions

Plaintiff requests a court order compelling Defendants to produce the documents requested in Plaintiff's First Request for Production of Documents ("RFP"), which consists of eight Requests. Plaintiff has re-stated the eight Requests for the court's review and submitted exhibits including Defendants' Responses, Defendants' Amended Responses, and letters exchanged between Plaintiff and counsel for Defendants attempting to resolve discovery issues concerning the RFP's. Plaintiff asserts that on March 17, 2014, he served Plaintiff's First RFP upon Defendants' counsel. (Declaration of Benito Reyes, Doc. 26 ¶ 3, Exh. A.) On May 1, 2014, Defendants served their Responses and Objections to the RFP. (Id. ¶ 4, Exh. B.) The parties then exchanged letters, and Defendants responded by producing ten pages of documents in response to RFP No. 1, and by serving Amended Responses upon Plaintiff on June 6, 2014. (Id. ¶¶ 5-7, Exhs. C, D, E.) The parties again exchanged letters, and on June 25, 2014, Defendants informed Plaintiff that they would provide him a copy of his medical records, as requested, but that they stood by their objections to RFP's Nos. 4 and 5. (Id. ¶¶ 8, 9, Exhs. G, H.) Plaintiff seeks to compel Defendants to produce documents in response to all eight of his RFP's, arguing that Defendants made objections to every request, some which were boilerplate objections, and only provided ten pages of responsive documents. Plaintiff argues that Defendants' objections on the grounds of privilege do not apply, because Plaintiff did not seek privileged ...

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