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Rogers v. Giurbino

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 18, 2016

TYRONE ROGERS, Plaintiff,
v.
G.J. GIURBINO et al, Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S EX PARTE [ECF NO. 135]

          Hon. Ruben B. Brooks, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Tyrone Rogers, a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis, submitted “Rogers’ Ex Parte Application for Protective Order Staying Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the Third [Amended] Complaint Pending a Ruling on [Motion to] Compel Discovery” (the “Ex Parte”), which was filed nunc pro tunc to February 22, 2016 [ECF No. 135]. On March 7, 2016, Kuzil-Ruan filed an “Opposition to Ex Parte Application for Protective Order Staying Kuzil’s Motion to Dismiss the Third Amended Complaint” [ECF No. 137]. Plaintiff filed his reply on May 25, 2016 [ECF No. 141]. For the reasons discussed below, the Ex Parte [ECF No. 135] is DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         The allegations that form the basis of Rogers’s lawsuit arise from events that began in March of 2010 while Plaintiff was incarcerated at Centinela State Prison (“Centinela”). (Third Am. Compl. 1, ECF No. 128.) In the Third Amended Complaint, Rogers contends that the Defendants violated his rights under RLUIPA and the First Amendment. (Id. at 3-5.) Plaintiff alleges that Giurbino and Uribe adopted a Staff Redirection Plan that caused prison lockdowns. (Id. at 3-4.) The lockdowns caused him “to [miss] attending his scheduled religious services on any given lockdown day without a compelling government interest and without the least restrictive means to further that interest.” (Id. at 4.) Rogers asserts that Defendants placed a substantial burden on his right to religious exercise “by not allowing Rogers to fellowship with other protestant faith inmates in the chapel for group study, group worship services, and group prayer service Sunday through Saturday.” (Id.) Plaintiff maintains that he presently suffers from these violations because he has still not completed a four-year seminary program that began in 2010 because of the rolling lockdowns. (Id.)

         In addition to the rolling lockdowns, Rogers appears to contend that on three separate occasions he was prevented from attending group worship, group bible study, and group prayer service for ten days respectively because scissors, ammunition, and a dental tool went missing, prompting the prison to be locked down. (See id. at 5.) He appears to only blame Kuzil-Ruan for the first of these occurrences, but he asserts that these incidents were reported to Uribe and Giurbino, who “chose not to correct their subordinates.” (Id.) He requests injunctive relief and damages. (Id. at 7.)

         II. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This case has a long procedural history. Plaintiff’s original Complaint was filed on March 21, 2011 [ECF No. 1]. United States District Court Judge Irma E. Gonzalez issued an order sua sponte dismissing Rogers’s Complaint for failure to state a claim [ECF No. 3]. Plaintiff filed his First Amended Complaint on May 31, 2011 [ECF No. 5], but this pleading was also sua sponte dismissed by Judge Gonzalez for the same reason [ECF No. 7]. Rogers filed his Second Amended Complaint on July 12, 2011 [ECF No. 8]. There, he stated causes of action against Defendants Giurbino, Uribe, Kuzil-Ruan, and Narvis under RLUIPA, the First Amendment, the Eighth Amendment, and the Fourteenth Amendment. (Second Am. Compl. 2-8, ECF No. 8.) Judge Gonzalez issued an order sua sponte dismissing Plaintiff’s Eighth Amendment and access to courts claims and dismissing Defendant Narvis from the litigation. (Order Dismissing Claims 7, ECF No. 9.)

         Defendants Uribe, Kuzil-Ruan, and Giurbino filed a motion to dismiss Rogers’s Second Amended Complaint on October 31, 2011 [ECF No. 18]. Judge Gonzalez granted this motion in part and denied it in part on February 14, 2012 [ECF No. 33]. She granted the motion as to Plaintiff’s claims under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, dismissed all claims against Defendants Giurbino and Uribe, and denied the motion to dismiss Rogers’s RLUIPA claims. (Order re: Mot. Dismiss Second Am. Compl. 21, ECF No. 33.) Defendant Kuzil-Ruan answered on February 27, 2012 [ECF No. 34]. Plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery on April 5, 2012 [ECF No. 42]. The Court issued an order granting in part and denying in part this motion [ECF No. 67]. On November 13, 2012, Defendant Kuzil-Ruan moved for summary judgment [ECF No. 74]. Judge Gonzalez granted summary judgment in favor of Kuzil-Ruan on February 26, 2013 [ECF No. 96].

         Rogers appealed several of the Court’s orders [ECF No. 100], and on August 31, 2015, the Ninth Circuit issued an order affirming in part, reversing in part, and vacating in part Judge Gonzalez’s decisions [ECF No. 112]. Of relevance here, the Ninth Circuit directed the district court to allow Rogers the benefit of its grant of his motion to compel discovery. (Rogers v. Giurbino, No. 13-55527, order at 8-10 (9th Cir. Sept. 23, 2015), ECF No. 112.) This Court subsequently issued an order stating that “to the extent the Defendant has not done so already, Kuzil-Ruan shall respond to the discovery ordered by December 30, 2015.” (Mins. 1, Nov. 25, 2015, ECF No. 127.) Plaintiff filed the Third Amended Complaint on January 19, 2016 [ECF No. 128]. On February 1, 2016, Defendants Giurbino and Uribe filed a motion to dismiss the Third Amended Complaint [ECF No. 129]. Defendant Kuzil-Ruan also filed a motion to dismiss the Third Amended Complaint the same day [ECF No. 131].

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         It is well established that a party may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Relevant information need not be admissible at trial to be discoverable. Id. Relevance is construed broadly to include any matter that bears on, or reasonably could lead to other matters that could bear on, any issue that may be in the case. See Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 350-51 (1978) (footnote omitted) (discussing relevance to a claim or defense, although decided under 1978 version of Rule 26 that authorized discovery relevant to the subject matter of the action (citing Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 501 (1947))). Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure enables the propounding party to bring a motion to compel responses to discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). The party opposing discovery bears the burden of resisting disclosure. Miller v. Pancucci, 141 F.R.D. 292, 299 (C.D. Cal. 1992).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         In the Ex Parte, Rogers appears to request that a ruling on the motions to dismiss be stayed pending an order from the Court compelling Defendants to produce discovery as a result of their alleged failure to comply with orders by the Ninth Circuit and this Court. (See Ex Parte Appl. 1, ECF No. 135.) Plaintiff indicates that the Defendants produced discovery in response to those orders, but he complains that this production falls short as to his document requests five, eight, and nine. (Id. at 2.)

As to document No. 5, Defendant[s] claim not to provide the officer’s names associated with the lost canister, document No. 8, Defendants claim that no evidence exist[s] concerning the name of the medical officer who lost the medical scissor[s] nor, did Defendants provide the name of ...

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