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Hoffmann v. Lassen County

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 25, 2017

KASEY F. HOFFMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
LASSEN COUNTY, et al, Defendants.

          ORDER

          DEBORAH BARNES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges defendants interfered with his right to marry. Before the court is plaintiff's motion to compel discovery responses. For the reasons set forth below, plaintiff's motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND

         This case is proceeding on plaintiff's original complaint filed here on June 30, 2015. (ECF No. 1.) Therein, plaintiff alleges defendants Lassen County and Julie Bustamante denied his request for a marriage license when he was incarcerated at the Lassen Adult Detention Facility. Plaintiff provides a copy of a letter from the Office of the Lassen County Clerk-Recorder stating that “[w]hen purchasing a marriage license in Lassen County, both parties must be physically present to sign the marriage license in our office.” (ECF No. 1 at 4.)

         On November 14, 2016, defendants answered the complaint. (ECF No. 28.) On November 21, the court issued a Discovery and Scheduling Order setting a deadline of March 10, 2017 for discovery and June 2, 2017 for pretrial motions. (ECF No. 29.)

         On March 13, 2017, plaintiff filed the present motion to compel. (ECF No. 31.) Defendants oppose the motion (ECF No. 33) and plaintiff filed a reply (ECF No. 35).

         On March 20, 2017, plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 32) and on April 28, defendants filed a motion for summary judgment (ECF No. 36). Plaintiff seeks an extension of time to respond to defendants' motion. (ECF No. 40.)

         MOTION TO COMPEL

         Plaintiff moves to compel defendants to respond to the following discovery: first request for production of documents, second request for production of documents, second set of interrogatories, and deposition questions. In addition, plaintiff seeks sanctions under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(4). (See ECF No. 31 at 2.) Plaintiff contends defendants improperly objected to the first request for production of documents, provided no list of privileged documents, and responded too late. Plaintiff further contends defendants failed to respond at all to his deposition questions or to his second set of requests for production and interrogatories. Defendants oppose plaintiff's motion. They argue most of the discovery was propounded too late, plaintiff's motion is untimely, and plaintiff's motion is meritless.

         I. Legal 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. County 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)).

         The party moving to compel bears the burden of informing the court (1) which discovery requests are the subject of the motion to compel, (2) which of the responses are disputed, (3) why the party believes the response is deficient, (4) why any objections are not justified, and (5) why the information sought through discovery is relevant to the prosecution of this action. McCoy v. Ramirez, No. 1:13-cv-1808-MJS (PC), 2016 WL 3196738, at *1 (E.D. Cal. June 9, 2016); Ellis v. Cambra, No. 1:02-cv-5646-AWI-SMS PC, 2008 WL 860523, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 27, 2008).

         The purpose of discovery is to “remove surprise from trial preparation so the parties can obtain evidence necessary to evaluate and resolve their dispute.” United States v. Chapman Univ., 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 information 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.

         “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 objections.” Bryant v. Ochoa, No. 07cv200 JM (PCL), 2009 WL 1390794, at *1 (S.D. Cal. May 14, 2009) (internal citation omitted).

         II. Analysis of ...


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