United States District Court, E.D. California
KENDALL J. NEWMAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is a state prisoner, proceeding without counsel. This action
proceeds on plaintiff's Eighth Amendment medical claims
against defendant Dr. Kuersten, Chief Medical Officer at
California State Prison, Solano (“CSP-Solano”).
Plaintiff's motion to compel further responses to
interrogatories is before the court. Defendant filed an
opposition, plaintiff did not file a reply. As set forth
below, plaintiff's motion is denied.
screening the operative pleading, the undersigned found that
plaintiff may be able to demonstrate that Dr. Kuersten was
deliberately indifferent to plaintiff's serious medical
needs by allegedly interfering with numerous recommendations
of specialists concerning the diagnosis and treatment of
plaintiff's chronic GI symptoms, suffered over more than
four years, which remain undiagnosed, by denying
plaintiff's primary care physicians' requests based
on recommendations by medical specialists, as well as by
suggesting physical therapy for plaintiff's tendon of his
right thumb where the orthopedic specialist stated that
“further nonoperative treatment would not be
effective.” (ECF No. 20 at 110.) See,
e.g., Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1132
(9th Cir. 2000) (en banc) (“A prisoner need not prove
that he was completely denied medical care. . . . Rather, he
can establish deliberate indifference by showing that
officials intentionally interfered with his medical
treatment.”) (citations omitted). (ECF No. 22 at
Legal Standards Governing Discovery
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). Such “motion may be made if:
. . . (iii) a party fails to answer an interrogatory
submitted under Rule 33; . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P.
37(a)(3)(B). An “evasive or incomplete disclosure,
answer, or response must be treated as a failure to disclose,
answer, or respond.” 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.
Cnty. 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)).
bears the burden of informing the court (1) which discovery
requests are the subject of his motion to compel, (2) which
of the responses are disputed, (3) why he believes the
response is deficient, (4) why defendants' objections are
not justified, and (5) why the information he seeks through
discovery is relevant to the prosecution of this action.
McCoy v. Ramirez, 2016 WL 3196738 at *1 (E.D. Cal.
2016); Ellis v. Cambra, 2008 WL 860523, at *4 (E.D.
Cal. 2008) (“Plaintiff must inform the court which
discovery requests are the subject of his motion to compel,
and, for each disputed response, inform the court why the
information sought is relevant and why defendant's
objections are not justified.”).
purpose of discovery is to “remove surprise from trial
preparation so the parties can obtain evidence necessary to
evaluate and resolve their dispute.” U.S. ex rel.
O'Connell 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
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. Information within this scope of discovery need not
be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.
Rule 26(b)(1). “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,
2009 WL 1390794 at *1 (S.D. Cal. May 14, 2009) (internal
respect to interrogatories, a party may propound
interrogatories related to any matter that may be inquired
into under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b).
Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(2). An interrogatory is not objectionable
merely because it asks for an opinion or contention that
relates to fact or the application of law to fact.
Id. A party is obligated to respond to
interrogatories to the fullest extent possible under oath.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(3). Any objections must be stated with
specificity. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(4); Davis v.
Fendler, 650 F.2d 1154, 1160 (9th Cir. 1981). The
responding party shall use common sense and reason.
Collins v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 2008 WL 1924935,
*8 (D. Kan. Apr. 30, 2008). A responding party is not
generally required to conduct extensive research in order to
answer an interrogatory, but a reasonable effort to respond
must be made. Gorrell v. Sneath, 292 F.R.D. 629, 632
(E.D. Cal. 2013); L.H. v. Schwarzenegger, 2007 WL
2781132, *2 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 21, 2007). Further, the
responding party has a duty to supplement any responses if
the information sought is later obtained or the response
provided needs correction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(e)(1)(A).
district court has broad discretion in deciding whether to
require answers to interrogatories. See 8A Wright,
Miller & Marcus, Federal Practice and Procedure §
2176 at 311 and n.1 (Civil 2d ed. 1994).
No. 1 inquires whether defendant “ever requested
[plaintiff] be transferred out of CSP-Solano?” Without
waiving objections, defendant stated that he does “not
recall ever requesting a transfer for plaintiff as there was
no medical reason to transfer him.” (ECF No. 70 at 5.)
In addition, Dr. Kuersten noted that he was informed that
plaintiff received an involuntary, non-adverse transfer to
Folsom State Prison in 2016 which was initiated by custody
staff. Plaintiff argues that defendant's objections are
without merit and evasive, and that defendant has a duty to
investigate, including requesting information from persons
and entities under defendant's control. Plaintiff then
describes how he was transferred at various times, and claims
that his transfer in 2016 was made possible by Dr. Kohler
lowering plaintiff's medical risk from high to medium on
January 21, 2016. However, plaintiff's motion fails to
identify a direct connection between Dr. Kuersten and the
question asked. Even if Dr. Kuersten had inquired as to the
actions of Dr. Kohler, it would not have identified a medical
transfer order by Dr. Kuersten. Moreover, it does not appear
that the answers plaintiff sought fit the call of the
question: plaintiff appears to contend that because certain
nonparty medical staff lowered plaintiff's medical risk
status, it enabled his transfers to prisons which would not
accept a high risk medical inmate. But, as the court recently
noted, “[p]laintiff's ...