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King v. W. S. Martinez

United States District Court, E.D. California

June 21, 2017

MARIO KING, Plaintiff,
W. S. WADKINS, Defendant.


         Plaintiff Mario King is a state prisoner and appearing pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         Currently before the Court is Defendant's motion to compel, filed May 3, 2017.



         This action is proceeding against Defendant W. S. Wadkins for alleged due process violations relating to a rules violation for fighting with another inmate.

         Defendant Wadkins filed an answer to the complaint on August 18, 2016, and on August 23, 2016, the Court issued the discovery and scheduling order.

         On March 20, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff's request to extend the time to respond to Defendant's interrogatory requests to and including, April 17, 2017.

         On April 17, 2017, the Court granted Defendant's request to extend the discovery deadline to May 8, 2017.

         On April 20, 2017, the Court granted Plaintiff's request for an extension of time to submit production of documents to Defendant. The deadline was extended to May 24, 2017, and the discovery cut-off date was extended to and including June 14, 2017.

         As previously stated, on May 3, 2017, Defendant filed a motion to compel further responses to Defendant's first set of interrogatories. Plaintiff filed an opposition on May 26, 2017, and Defendant filed a reply on June 2, 2017.



         Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and he is a state prisoner challenging his conditions of confinement. As a result, the parties were relieved of some of the requirements which would otherwise apply, including initial disclosure and the need to meet and confer in good faith prior to involving the Court in a discovery dispute. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(a)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1); Local Rules 240, 251; ECF No. 18, Discovery and Scheduling Order, &4. Further, where otherwise discoverable information would pose a threat to the safety and security of the prison or infringe upon a protected privacy interest, a need may arise for the Court to balance interests in determining whether disclosure should occur. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c); Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 35 n.21 (1984) (privacy rights or interests implicit in broad purpose and language of Rule 26(c)); Burlington N. & Santa Fe Ry. Co. v. United States Dist. Court for the Dist. of Montana, 408 F.3d 1142, 1149 (9th Cir. 2005) (discussing assertion of privilege); Soto v. City of Concord, 162 F.R.D. 603, 616 (N.D. Cal. 1995) (recognizing a constitutionally-based right of privacy that can be raised in discovery); see also Garcia v. Clark, No. 1:10-CV-00447-LJO-DLB PC, 2012 WL 1232315, at *6 n.5 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 12, 2012) (noting inmate's entitlement to inspect discoverable information may be accommodated in ways which mitigate institutional safety concerns); Robinson v. Adams, No. 1:08-cv-01380-AWI-BAM PC, 2012 WL 912746, at *2-3 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 16, 2012) (issuing protective order regarding documents containing information which implicated the safety and security of the prison); Orr v. Hernandez, No. CV-08-0472-JLQ, 2012 WL 761355, at *1-2 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 7, 2012) (addressing requests for protective order and for redaction of information asserted to risk jeopardizing safety and security of inmates or the institution if released); Womack v. Virga, No. CIV S-11-1030 MCE EFB P, 2011 WL 6703958, at *5-6 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 21, 2011) (requiring defendants to submit withheld documents for in camera review or move for a protective order).

         However, this is a civil action to which the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure apply. The discovery process is subject to the overriding limitation of good faith, and callous disregard of discovery responsibilities cannot be condoned. Asea, Inc. v. Southern Pac. Transp. Co., 669 F.2d 1242, 1246 (9th Cir. 1981) (quotation marks and citation omitted). “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.” Fed R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).

         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. Grabek v. Dickinson, No. CIV S-10-2892 GGH P, 2012 WL 113799, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 13, 2012); Womack, 2011 WL 6703958, at *3; Mitchell v. Felker, No. CV 08-119RAJ, 2010 WL 3835765, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Sep. 29, 2010); 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, 2011 WL 6703958, at *3; Mitchell, 2010 WL 3835765, at *2; Ellis, 2008 WL 860523, at *4. However, the Court is vested with broad discretion to manage discovery and notwithstanding these procedures, Plaintiff is entitled to leniency as a pro se litigation; therefore, to the extent possible, the Court endeavors to resolve his motion to compel on its merits. Hunt v. County of Orange, 672 F.3d 606, 616 (9th Cir. 2012); Surfvivor Media, Inc. v. Survivor Productions, 406 F.3d 625, 635 (9th Cir. 2005); Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002).

         Defendant moves to compel Plaintiff to provide further responses to Interrogatories Numbers 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, and 22.

         In opposition, Plaintiff appears to argue that he did not have sufficient time to respond to Defendant's interrogatories. However, Plaintiff was granted an extension of time to respond to Defendant's requests (ECF No. 34), and Plaintiff did not seek any additional time to respond to Defendant's interrogatories. Thus, there is no basis to support Plaintiff's argument of the need to conduct additional research relevant to Defendant's interrogatory requests.

         A. Interrogatory Responses

         “Each interrogatory must, to the extent it is not objected to, be answered separately and fully in writing under oath.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(3). “The grounds for objecting to an interrogatory must be stated with specificity. Any ground not stated in a timely objection is waived unless the court, for good cause, excuses the failure.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(4). Finally, responses to interrogatories must be verified. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(5) (“The person who makes the answers must sign them, and the attorney, who objects must sign any objections.”)

         Defendant submits that his first set of interrogatories ask Plaintiff to identify facts, persons, and documents that support Plaintiff's contentions that Defendant violated his due process rights.

         1.Interrogatory Nos. 1, 2 and 3

         Interrogatory No. 1: State all facts that support your claim that DEFENDANT Wadkins was provided with evidence indicating YOUR innocence as YOU allege on page four of YOUR COMPLAINT.

         Plaintiff's Response: Supporting facts that Defendant W. S. Wadkins was presented with evidence. See Exhibits 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 13, 14, 15.” See also Exhibit 11 that Defendant W. S. Watkins deliberately withheld document until the conclusion of the hearing which clearly contradicts both correctional officer B. Martinez report and the Defendant W. S. Wadkins assertion that Plaintiff inflicted serious injury or serious impairment of physical condition, nor injury pursuant to Dr. G. Ugwueze Chief Medical Executive report.

         Interrogatory No. 2: IDENTIFY each and every PERSON by name and address who YOU contend has knowledge of any fact supporting YOUR contention that DEFENDANT Wadkins was provided with evidence indicating ...

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