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Bruce v. Woodford

United States District Court, E.D. California

September 29, 2014

VINCENT C. BRUCE, Plaintiff,
v.
JEANNE WOODFORD, et al., Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL ANSWERS TO ADMISSION REQUESTS (ECF No. 153)

BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Vincent C. Bruce ("Plaintiff") is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983. This action proceeds on Plaintiff's claims against: (1) Defendants Adams, Hense, Ward, Clark, Fulks, Wan, Frauenheim, Lloren, Fields, and Tripp for retaliation in violation of the First Amendment; (2) Defendants Adams, Hense, Ward, Clark, Fulks, Wan, Lloren, Fields, and Tripp for violation of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and (3) Defendants Adams, Schottgen, and Fields for failing to provide Plaintiff with adequate clothing in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

Currently pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion, filed on November 22, 2013, seeking to compel Defendants' answers to admissions. (ECF No. 153.) Defendants opposed the motion on December 10, 2013. (ECF No. 157.) Plaintiff replied on January 15, 2014. (ECF No. 164.) The motion is deemed submitted. Local Rule 230(l).

II. Motion to Compel Responses to Requests for Admissions[1]

"A party may serve on any other party a written request to admit, for purposes of the pending action only, the truth of any matters within the scope of Rule 26(b)(1) relating to: (A) facts, the application of law to fact, or opinions about either; and (B) the genuineness of any described documents." Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(1). Rule 36 provides:

If a matter is not admitted, the answer must specifically deny it or state in detail why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny it. A denial must fairly respond to the substance of the matter; and when good faith requires that a party qualify an answer or deny only a part of a matter, the answer must specify the part admitted and qualify or deny the rest. The answering party may assert lack of knowledge or information as a reason for failing to admit or deny only if the party states that it has made reasonable inquiry and that the information it knows or can readily obtain is insufficient to enable it to admit or deny.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(4).

"The grounds for objecting to a request must be stated, " Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(5), and as with other forms of discovery, it is well established that boilerplate objections do not suffice, e.g., Thompson v. Yates , 2011 WL 5975469, at *2-3 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 29, 2011).

Finally, "[t]he requesting party may move to determine the sufficiency of an answer or objection." Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(6). "Unless the court finds an objection justified, it must order that an answer be served. On finding that an answer does not comply with this rule, the court may order either that the matter is admitted or that an amended answer be served." Id.

A. Request for Admission (RFA) No. 2

RFA 1: Admit that CDCR staff are required to enforce all CDCR regulations and procedures that govern inmates.

Response: Defendant objects to this request on the grounds that, as phrased, it is vague. Without waiving that objection, Defendant responds as follows: Defendant can neither admit nor deny this request, because not all CDCR staff are authorized to "enforce" all regulations and procedures.[2]

Ruling: Plaintiff's motion to compel is denied.

The Court finds Plaintiff's request for admission to be vague and overbroad. Additionally, Defendants cannot be expected to review each and every CDCR regulation and procedure pertaining to inmates in order to determine which staff members are authorized to enforce the regulation or procedure.

B. Request for Admission No. 7

RFA 7: Admit there is no regulation prohibiting inmates from communicating with persons outside the facility about a ...


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