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Williams v. Daszko

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 2, 2017

HILLIARD WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
JAROM A. DASZKO, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis with appointed pro bono counsel in this civil rights action filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action proceeds on plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claims that defendant physicians Dr. Jarom Daszko and Dr. David Mathis were deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious medical needs. Plaintiff alleges that on September 7, 2012, during his incarceration at California Medical Facility (CMF), another inmate threw a caustic substance on plaintiff, causing second and third degree burns to plaintiff's face, neck, hands and arms. Plaintiff alleges that defendants failed to provide him with adequate pain medication, and challenges an alleged CMF policy that allowed only a prisoner's primary care physician to prescribe morphine; plaintiff's primary care physician, Dr. Wieland, was on vacation during the relevant period.

         Currently pending is plaintiff's motion to extend the discovery deadline. See ECF No. 70. Although plaintiff set the matter for hearing on May 10, 2017, the court ordered expedited briefing, see ECF No. 71; the briefing is now complete, see ECF Nos. 72-4. For the reasons that follow, the court grants plaintiff's motion, extends the discovery deadline to August 4, 2017, extends the deadline for filing dispositive motions to November 3, 2017, and vacates the hearing on this matter.

         II. Background

         Plaintiff commenced this action in pro se by filing the operative complaint on May 21, 2014. See ECF No. 1. By order filed September 16, 2014, this court found, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, that the complaint states cognizable claims against defendants Daszko and Mathis, and directed the United States Marshal to serve process on these defendants. See ECF No. 8. The Marshal returned defendants' waivers of service on November 26, 2014. See ECF No. 14.

         Defendant Mathis, represented by Deputy California Attorney General (DAG) Joseph Wheeler, filed and served his answer to the complaint on December 15, 2014, ECF No. 15; defendant Daszko, represented by private counsel Kevin Dehoff, with the Sacramento law firm Angelo, Kilday & Kilduff, filed and served his answer on December 23, 2014, ECF No. 17. The court issued the initial Discovery and Scheduling Order on December 31, 2014, which set a discovery deadline of April 30, 2015, and a dispositive motion deadline of July 30, 2015. See ECF No. 18.

         Defendants Mathis and Daszko filed separate motions for summary judgment on March 3 and March 17, 2015, respectively. See ECF Nos. 19, 21. Both motions sought judgment on the ground that plaintiff had failed to exhaust his administrative remedies before commencing this action. The court granted plaintiff's request for extended time to prepare his opposition to the motions, ECF No. 23, and vacated other deadlines pending the court's decision on the motions, ECF No. 34. On February 8, 2016, the undersigned issued findings and recommendations recommending the denial of defendants' motions for summary judgment. See ECF No. 37. By order filed March 14, 2016, the district judge adopted the undersigned's findings and recommendations. See ECF No. 39.

         By order filed March 16, 2016, the undersigned directed each party to file and serve a statement informing the court whether a settlement conference may be helpful in resolving this case. See ECF No. 41. Although plaintiff expressed support for scheduling a settlement conference, ECF No. 49, neither defendant agreed, ECF Nos. 44, 45.

         On April 4, 2016, the court issued an Amended Discovery and Scheduling Order, with a discovery deadline of August 5, 2016, and a dispositive motion deadline of October 14, 2016. See ECF No. 47. Plaintiff requested a 120-day extension due to the recent death of his mother; his placement in the administrative segregation unit; his recent transfer to another prison and anticipated transfer to yet another prison, and related difficulties in accessing the prison law libraries and his legal materials; and because “both defendant[s] [are] sending all kinds of paper work to me at the same time it's to[o] much for me to deal with.” ECF No. 50 at 1. The court granted plaintiff's request and issued a further scheduling order.

         On April 20, 2016, the court issued a Further Amended Discovery and Scheduling Order, which set a discovery deadline of December 16, 2016, and a dispositive motion deadline of March 17, 2017. See ECF No. 51. Defendant Mathis filed a motion to compel discovery on August 3, 2016. ECF No. 59. Defendant Daszko filed a motion to compel discovery on October 19, 2016. ECF No. 65.

         On November 15, 2016, the court granted plaintiff's request for appointment of counsel. See ECF No. 67; see also ECF Nos. 43, 62, 64. Three attorneys with the Los Angeles law firm Jenner & Block are working together to provide plaintiff with pro bono representation.

         On November 29, 2016, the court issued yet another Further Amended Discovery and Scheduling Order, setting a discovery deadline of March 31, 2017, and a dispositive motion deadline of June 30, 2017. See ECF No. 68. These remain the operative dates. The court denied without prejudice defendants' respective motions to compel discovery, which were not renewed, apparently because resolved by plaintiff's newly appointed counsel.

         On March 31, 2017, plaintiff's counsel filed the pending motion to extend discovery. ECF No. 70.

         III. The Motion

         Plaintiff seeks to extend the discovery deadline by at least 90 days in order to obtain contact information for, and to depose, nonparties Dr. Deepak Mehta and Dr. John Wieland, and to propound additional written discovery on defendants Daszko and Mathis. Plaintiff's counsel conferred with defendants' counsel before filing the instant motion, but was unable to obtain a stipulation to extend the discovery deadline.

         Plaintiff's counsel states that when appointed to represent plaintiff in November 2016, no witnesses had been deposed, and defendants had produced no documents in response to plaintiff's production ...


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