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Murillo v. Holland

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 27, 2018

K. HOLLAND, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff contends defendants caused him sleep deprivation in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Before the court are plaintiff's motions to compel defendants to respond to discovery, plaintiff's requests for the appointment of counsel, and defendants' motion to modify the Discovery and Scheduling Order. For the reasons set forth below, the court will deny plaintiff's motions, without prejudice to refiling a more specific motion to compel, and grant defendants' motion.


         This case is proceeding on plaintiff's first amended complaint filed here on December 19, 2016. (ECF No. 52.) Defendants' motion to dismiss that complaint was granted in part and denied in part. (ECF Nos. 57, 58.) One claim remains - plaintiff's Eighth Amendment claim that defendants Holland, Gutierrez, and Ybarra implemented Guard One security checks and allowed them to continue despite their knowledge that the checks were depriving plaintiff of sleep.

         After defendants filed an answer, the court issued a Discovery and Scheduling Order on July 7, 2017 which set a discovery cut-off of December 7, 2017 and a deadline of February 5, 2018 for filing pre-trial dispositive motions. (ECF No. 62.) On November 16, 2017, the court granted plaintiff's request to extend the discovery cut-off to February 7, 2018. (ECF No. 72.)

         On July 11, 2017, Jorge Andrade Rico filed a notice that his case, No. 2:170-cv-1402-CKD, is related to the present case and two other cases pending in this court, including the class action Coleman v. Brown, No. 2:90-cv-520 KJM DB P. (ECF No. 64.) On February 2, 2018, Judge Mueller related the four cases. (ECF No. 79.) Each has been assigned to Judge Mueller and to the undersigned magistrate judge. On February 15, 2018, Mr. Rico filed notices of two additional related cases. (ECF Nos. 81, 83.)

         On January 8, 2018 plaintiff filed motions to compel defendants to respond to his first and second sets of interrogatories and requests for production of documents. (ECF No. 75.) On January 29, 2018, plaintiff filed a second motion to compel. (ECF No. 76.) In this second motion, plaintiff seeks further responses to his second set of interrogatories and requests for production of documents. In both motions, plaintiff includes a request for the appointment of counsel. On January 30, 2018, defendants filed an opposition to the January 8 motion. (ECF No. 77.) On February 12, 2018, plaintiff filed a document in reply. (ECF No. 80.)


         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 ...

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