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Harris v. Escamilla

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 16, 2016

DARRELL HARRIS, Plaintiff,
v.
S. ESCAMILLA, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO COMPEL FURTHER RESPONSES TO INTERROGATORY NO. 5 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S REQUEST FOR SANCTIONS (ECF NO. 95)

          MICHAEL J. SENG UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1983. The case proceeds on Plaintiff’s First Amendment free exercise of religion claim against Defendant Escamilla. (ECF No. 9.)

         Before the Court is Plaintiff’s June 3, 2016 motion to compel discovery. (ECF No. 95.) Defendant filed an opposition to Plaintiff’s motion on June 29, 2016. (ECF No. 100.) Plaintiff did not file a reply. In hopes of the efficient resolution of this discovery issue, the Court held a telephonic discovery dispute conference (“TDDC”) for July 8, 2016 at 11:00 am.

         I. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         Plaintiff first filed a motion to compel discovery on September 14, 2015. (ECF No. 51.) On December 2, 2015, the Court denied Plaintiff’s motion in part because Plaintiff failed to state which of Defendant’s responses were inadequate and why. (ECF No. 56.) The Court did, however, extend the discovery deadline by fourteen days to allow Plaintiff an opportunity to file an amended motion to compel curing identified deficiencies. Id. Plaintiff filed an amended motion to compel on December 17, 2015. (ECF No. 61.)

         On March 29, 2016, the Court granted in part and denied in part Plaintiff’s amended motion to compel and directed Defendant to serve further responses to certain requests for admissions and interrogatories within fourteen days of the Court’s order. (ECF No. 79.)[1]

         On May 1, 2016, in accordance with the Court’s order, Defendant served supplemental responses to Plaintiff’s discovery requests. (ECF No. 95 at 14-15.) On June 3, 2016, Plaintiff filed another motion to compel, arguing Defendant had failed to fully comply with the Court’s March 29, 2016 order directing him to provide a response to Interrogatory No. 5. (ECF No. 95.) Plaintiff also requested the Court impose sanctions on Defendant for failing to comply with the Court’s order. Defendant filed an opposition to Plaintiff’s motion to compel on June 29, 2016. (ECF No. 100.) Plaintiff has not filed a reply.

         On July 8, 2016, the Court held the above-referenced TDDC. Plaintiff appeared pro se, and Deputy Attorney General Arthur Mark appeared on behalf of Defendant.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The discovery process is subject to the overriding limitation of good faith. Asea, Inc. v. S. Pac. Transp. Co., 669 F.2d 1242, 1246 (9th Cir.1981). Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense, and for good cause, the Court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Id.

         Generally, if the responding party objects to a discovery request, the party moving to compel bears the burden of demonstrating why the objections are not justified. E.g., Grabek v. Dickinson, No. CIV S-10-2892 GGH P., 2012 WL 113799, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 13, 2012); Ellis v. Cambra, No. 1:02-cv-05646-AWI-SMS (PC), 2008 WL 860523, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 27, 2008). This requires the moving party to inform the Court which discovery requests are the subject of the motion to compel, and, for each disputed response, why the information sought is relevant and why the responding party's objections are not meritorious. Grabek, 2012 WL 113799, at *1; Womack v. Virga, No. CIV S-11-1030 MCE EFB P., 2011 WL 6703958, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 21, 2011).

         The court must limit discovery if the burden of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C)(iii). “In each instance, the determination whether . . . information is discoverable because it is relevant to the claims or defenses depends on the circumstances of the pending action.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 Advisory Committee’s Note (2000 Amendment) (Gap Report) (Subdivision (b)(1)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff’s motion to compel stems from Defendant’s alleged failure to fully respond to Plaintiff’s Interrogatory No. 5, Set One, which reads:

         “Have you ever been found guilty of misconduct of any kind?” (ECF No. 51 at 62.)

         A. ...


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