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Womack v. Windsor

United States District Court, E.D. California

March 27, 2017

RODNEY JEROME WOMACK, Plaintiff,
v.
J. WINDSOR, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          KENDALL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner, proceeding without counsel. Plaintiff has filed multiple motions, which the court addresses below.

         I. Background

         On June 22, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion to compel discovery. (ECF No. 39.) Plaintiff's motion to compel discovery was denied on September 7, 2016. (ECF No. 44.) Discovery closed on July 29, 2016. (ECF No. 30.) On October 26, 2016, plaintiff filed a second motion to compel discovery seeking the production of documents. (ECF No. 52.)

         On December 15, 2016, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. On December 30, 2016, plaintiff filed a motion for extension of time to oppose the motion for summary judgment. On January 18, 2017, plaintiff filed a document styled “Discovery is Needed to Oppose Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.” (ECF No. 64.) Defendants filed an opposition, and plaintiff filed a reply. (ECF Nos. 65, 67.)

         On February 10, 2017, plaintiff filed a third motion for an order compelling discovery, to which he appended his January 18, 2017 filing. (ECF No. 66.) Defendants filed an opposition and seek sanctions for plaintiff's untimely and repeated discovery motions, and plaintiff filed a reply. (ECF Nos. 68, 69.)

         II. Motions to Compel

         A. Standards

         Under Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “a party seeking discovery may move for an order compelling an answer, designation, production, or inspection.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). The court may order a party to provide further responses to an “evasive or incomplete disclosure, answer, or response.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4). “District courts have ‘broad discretion to manage discovery and to control the course of litigation under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16.'” Hunt v. Cnty. of Orange, 672 F.3d 606, 616 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Avila v. Willits Envtl. Remediation Trust, 633 F.3d 828, 833 (9th Cir. 2011)).

         Plaintiff bears the burden of informing the court (1) which discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel, (2) which of the responses are disputed, (3) why he believes the response is deficient, (4) why defendants' objections are not justified, and (5) why the information he seeks through discovery is relevant to the prosecution of this action. McCoy v. Ramirez, 2016 WL 3196738 at *1 (E.D. Cal. 2016); Ellis v. Cambra, 2008 WL 860523, at *4 (E.D. Cal. 2008) (“Plaintiff must inform the court which discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel, and, for each disputed response, inform the court why the information sought is relevant and why defendant's objections are not justified.”). The reach of Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which governs requests for production, “extends to all relevant documents, tangible things and entry upon designated land or other property.” Clark v. Vega Wholesale Inc., 181 F.R.D. 470, 472-73 (D. Nev. 1998), citing 8A C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2206, at 381.

         The purpose of discovery is to “remove surprise from trial preparation so the parties can obtain evidence necessary to evaluate and resolve their dispute.” U.S. ex rel. O'Connell v. Chapman University, 245 F.R.D. 646, 648 (C.D. Cal. 2007) (quotation and citation omitted). Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure offers guidance on the scope of discovery permitted:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Id. “Relevance for purposes of discovery is defined very broadly.” Garneau v. City of Seattle, 147 F.3d 802, 812 (9th Cir. 1998). “The party seeking to compel discovery has the burden of establishing that its request satisfies the relevancy requirements of Rule 26(b)(1). Thereafter, the party opposing discovery has the burden of showing that the discovery should be prohibited, and the burden of clarifying, explaining or supporting its ...


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