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Williams v. Romero

United States District Court, E.D. California

August 28, 2019

LANCE WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
ROMERO, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          DEBORAH BARNES UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff alleges excessive force and deliberate indifference to his medical needs when he was trapped by a mechanical sliding door. Before the court is plaintiff's motion to compel discovery responses from defendants. For the reasons set forth below, the court will grant the motion.

         BACKGROUND

         This case is proceeding on plaintiff's original complaint filed here on September 11, 2017. Therein, plaintiff alleges that defendant Romero closed a mechanical sliding door on him on purpose and refused to release the door. He further alleges that when he was released from the door, he requested medical care but defendants Romero, Abarca, and La refused to give him access to such care. On screening, this court found plaintiff stated potentially cognizable claims for excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment against defendant Romero and for deliberate indifference to his medical needs against defendants Romero, Abarca, and La. (ECF No. 13.) On February 4, 2019, defendants answered the complaint. On March 19, this court issued a Discovery and Scheduling Order which set a discovery deadline of July 18, 2019 and a pretrial motion deadline of October 18, 2019. (ECF No. 50.) The order also informed the parties that any requests for discovery must be served not later than sixty days prior to the July 18 deadline.

         On June 24, plaintiff filed a motion to compel. (ECF No. 60.) Plaintiff argues that he twice served defendants with a request for production of documents but that defendants have refused to comply with the request. Defendants oppose the motion. (ECF No. 64.) Plaintiff did not file a reply brief.

         MOTION TO COMPEL

         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 reach of Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which governs requests for production, “extends to all relevant documents, tangible things, and entry upon designated land or other property.” Clark v. Vega Wholesale Inc., 181 F.R.D. 470, 472-73 (D. Nev. 1998) (citing 8A C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2206, at 381).

         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 University, 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

         Plaintiff contends that he submitted a request for production of documents to defendants twice and did not receive an appropriate response. Defendants argue that plaintiff's first discovery ...


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