United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE
ORDER (ECF NO. 25.) ORDER STAYING DISCOVERY, EXCEPT FOR THE
LIMITED PURPOSE DESCRIBED BY THIS ORDER PENDING RESOLUTION OF
DEFENDANT SCALIA'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
S. AUSTIN, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
William Cortinas (“Plaintiff”) is a state
prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma
pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983. This case now proceeds with the original
Complaint, filed on January 30, 2017, against defendants C/O
J. Scalia and C/O M. Huerta (“Defendants”) for
use of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment,
and against defendant C/O J. Scalia for retaliation in
violation of the First Amendment. (ECF No. 1.)
December 4, 2017, the court issued a Discovery/Scheduling
Order which opened the discovery phase for this action and
established a deadline of May 4, 2018, for the parties to
complete discovery. (ECF No. 19.) On January 10, 2018,
defendant Scalia filed a motion for partial summary judgment
based on Plaintiff's failure to exhaust administrative
remedies for the retaliation claim in this case. (ECF No.
24.) This motion for summary judgment is now pending.
January 10, 2018, Defendants filed a motion for a protective
order staying discovery, or in the alternative permitting
only limited discovery, pending resolution of defendant
Scalia's exhaustion motion. (ECF No. 25.) On January 30,
2018, Plaintiff filed an opposition to the motion for
protective order. (ECF No. 27.) On February 6, 2018,
Defendants filed a reply to Plaintiff's opposition. (ECF
No. 29.) The motion for protective order is now before the
court. Local Rule 230(l).
MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER - RULE 26(c)
26(c)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides,
“A party or any person from whom discovery is sought
may move for a protective order in the court where the action
is pending. . . The court may, for good cause, issue an order
to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment,
oppression, or undue burden or expense . . . .”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). The court has inherent authority to
manage the cases before it. Landis v. N. Am. Co.,
299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936) (“[T]he power to stay
proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every
court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket
with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and
for litigants. How this can best be done calls for the
exercise of judgment which must weigh competing interests and
maintain an even balance”); Dependable Highway
Exp., Inc. v. Navigators Ins. Co., 498 F.3d 1059, 1066
(9th Cir. 2007). District courts may exercise “wide
discretion in controlling discovery.” Little v.
City of Seattle, 863 F.2d 681, 685 (9th Cir. 1988). A
stay of discovery pending the resolution of potentially
dispositive issues furthers the goal of efficiency for the
courts and the litigants. See id. (noting
furtherance of efficiency goal when staying discovery pending
resolution of immunity issue). Indeed, the Ninth Circuit has
recently held that staying discovery pending the resolution
of an exhaustion motion is proper. See Albino v.
Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1170-71 (9th Cir. 2014)
(establishing propriety of delaying discovery pending
resolution of exhaustion motion).
seek a stay of discovery on the ground that defendant
Scalia's motion for partial summary judgment (ECF No.
24), filed on January 10, 2018, remains pending and is
potentially dispositive of the retaliation claim in this
case. The motion for summary judgment asserts non-exhaustion
of administrative remedies for Plaintiff's retaliation
claim. Defendants argue that additional discovery is not
necessary to decide the exhaustion motion, and even if
discovery were necessary, discovery should be limited to
evidence relevant to the pending motion only. Defendants also
argue that it would be a waste of resources to require the
parties to respond to discovery requests on the merits of the
case before the exhaustion motion is decided.
argues that he intends to amend the Complaint to add a claim
alleging that C/O Scalia was a danger to mental health
prisoners, and he seeks witnesses and documents in support of
this claim that can only be produced through discovery.
Plaintiff also seeks to request discovery in support of his
opposition to the exhaustion motion.
respond that Plaintiff has not identified any evidence he
does not already have that is necessary to decide the
exhaustion issue. Defendants also argue that Plaintiff's
claim that defendant Scalia posed a danger to mental health
prisoners, which Plaintiff intends to raise in an amended
complaint, is irrelevant to exhaustion, and it would be a
waste to expend resources on Plaintiff's theory now when
it is not clear the claim will survive the court's
requisite screening [under 28 U.S.C. § 1915A].
court agrees that discovery should be stayed in this case,
with the exception of discovery related to whether Plaintiff
failed to exhaust administrative remedies, and will therefore
order that discovery be stayed in part, pending the
resolution of defendant Scalia's summary judgment motion
based on failure to exhaust.
on Defendants' arguments, and a review of defendant
Scalia's pending motion for partial summary judgment, the
court finds good cause to grant Defendants' motion for a
protective order. Defendant Scalia's motion for summary
judgment is based on the ground that Plaintiff failed to
exhaust his administrative remedies for the retaliation claim
at issue in this case. Resolution of defendant Scalia's
motion for summary judgment may dispose of the retaliation
claim, which would cause discovery to be unnecessary on the
issue of retaliation.
argument that he needs to conduct discovery for a claim that
is not currently at issue in this case is unpersuasive. If
Plaintiff intends to add another claim by amendment, he can
wait until after the exhaustion motion is resolved. The
deadline to amend pleadings is April 3, 2018, and the court
does not anticipate a lengthy stay pending resolution of the
motion for summary judgment. Moreover, the court is not
opposed to an extension of the deadline to amend pleadings if
needed. If ...