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Gil v. Sanchez

United States District Court, S.D. California

April 4, 2018

RUBEN GIL, Plaintiff,
SANCHEZ, et al., Defendant.



         Currently pending before the Court are three discovery related motions filed by Plaintiff Ruben Gil, who is proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). The Court will address each in turn.


         Plaintiff, who was incarcerated and housed at R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility (“Donovan”) when he initiated this lawsuit, alleges when he was transferred to Donovan he informed Defendant Captain Sanchez and Defendant Lieutenant Williams that he had experienced assaults by “Security Threat Groups” since 2013, including a recent assault in his cell at the “other institution.”[1] [Doc. No. 1, p. 3 of 8.] He alleges that despite knowing Plaintiff is at ongoing risk of harm by members of the “Security Threat Groups, ” Defendant Sanchez assigned Plaintiff “cellies” that are members of these groups, creating serious risk to Plaintiff's life. [Id.] Defendant Williams is alleged to be aware of, but indifferent to, Plaintiff's situation. [Id., p. 2 of 8.]

         Motion to Compel [Doc. No. 43]

         A party is entitled to seek discovery of any non-privileged matter that is relevant to his claims and proportional to the needs of the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The discovery may include information that is not admissible. Id. When a party objects to a discovery request, it is the burden of the party moving to compel to demonstrate why the objection is not justified. See Lemons v. Camarillo, 2017 WL 4700074, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Oct. 18, 2017; Glass v. Beer, 2007 WL 913876, at *1 (E.D. Cal Mar. 23, 2007).

         As the moving party, Plaintiff bears the burden of informing the Court which discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel and, for each disputed response, why the information sought is relevant and why Defendants' objections are not justified. Id.; see also Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002). Plaintiff contends the responses and documents produced by Defendants in response to his first set of interrogatories, requests for admission and document requests are insufficient.[2] [Doc. No. 43.] He generally takes issue with Defendants asserting objections in their discovery responses, without explaining why any of Defendants' objections are without merit.[3]

         Plaintiff seeks to compel Defendants to produce documents or information about his transfers between institutions, including his transfer to a “higher institution 180 with violent offenders after Plaintiff was being assaulted constantly.” [Doc. No. 43, p. 9 of 45.] Defendants have produced the classification chrono and transfer chrono that directed Plaintiff's transfer to Donovan. [Doc. No. 55, p. 40 of 48, Defendant's Responses to Requests for Production of Documents, Request No. 1.] To the extent Plaintiff seeks information about his transfers to institutions other than Donovan, this information is neither relevant to the claims made in this case, nor proportional to the needs of the case.

         Plaintiff also seeks to compel Defendants to produce photographs of tattoos of Plaintiff's prior cellies Estrada, Monroy, and Reza, as well as their general chronos (128G) “so Plaintiff can prove the evil intention in Defendants segregating Plaintiff with security threat groups.” [Id. at p. 2 of 45; Doc. No. 55, p. 42-73 of 48, Request No. 5 & 6.] Production of other inmates' general chronos and personal information implicates these third-parties' privacy rights, as well as safety and security concerns. Furthermore, none of these individuals had security-threat status when they were celled with Plaintiff. [Doc. No. 11-1, Declaration of Lt. Williams, ¶ 13.] Thus, given the third-party privacy concerns and security and safety issues raised by these requests, the importance of the issues at stake, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, this discovery is not proportional to the needs of the case.

         Lastly, Plaintiff seeks to compel production of the “last names of staff and positions in all the institutions Plaintiff got assaulted.” [Id. at p. 5 of 45; Doc. No. 55, p. 28 of 48, Interrogatory No. 3]. Plaintiff's claims arise from Defendants Sanchez and Williams' handling of his cell assignments at Donovan. He does not allege he was assaulted at Donovan and Defendant has also denied that any assaults occurred at Donovan. [Doc. No. 55, p. 19 of 48, Defendants' Response to Request for Admission No. 4.] Furthermore, Defendants have produced incident reports for the five physical altercations in which Plaintiff was involved in the past four years (none of which was at Donovan). The names and positions of every staff member employed at prisons other than Donovan are, thus, not relevant to Plaintiff's claims or any defense, and are not proportional to the needs of the case. Based on the foregoing, Plaintiff's motion to compel is DENIED.

         Ex Parte Application to Depose Defendants [Doc. No. 49]

         In his ex parte application, Plaintiff seeks leave to depose Defendants and to take more than ten depositions.[4] [Doc. No. 49] Plaintiff argues that, in addition to Defendants, he needs to depose the wardens and multiple staff members at each institution where he was assaulted, regarding the treatment he received at those other institutions. [Id. at 2-3 of 39.] He also asks the Court to appoint a deposition officer for Plaintiff's depositions, order service of Plaintiff's deposition notices by publication, and order a stenographer to schedule the depositions. [Id. at p. 4 of 39.]

         Plaintiff has not shown good cause to compel the depositions of Defendants or conduct more than ten depositions. Defendants Williams and Sanchez have not received notices of deposition, as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b), but represent that if notice is timely served, and if the notices comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, they will appear for deposition.[5] [Doc. No. 58, p. 2 of 3.] Plaintiff has not shown why Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(a)(2)(A)(i)'s ten deposition limit is inadequate for the needs of his case. Although he says he intends to depose wardens and staff members of other prisons regarding his treatment at those institutions, it is unclear how any such testimony would help him prove his case against Defendants Williams and Sanchez.[6]

         Lastly, with respect to Plaintiff's request the Court appoint others to assist with scheduling and taking any depositions, it is not the role of the Court to conduct discovery on a party's behalf. If Plaintiff seeks to conduct a deposition he will be responsible for arranging the presence of an officer authorized to administer oaths by the laws of the United States, as required by Fed.R.Civ.P. 28(a), and a means of recording the testimony either by sound, sound-and-visual, or stenographic means. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 30(b)(3). Plaintiff will also be responsible for these and any other costs related to any deposition(s) he takes. See Tedder v. Odel, 890 F.2d 210, ...

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