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Bolden v. Arana

United States District Court, N.D. California

September 17, 2019

WILLIE BOLDEN, Plaintiff,
v.
S. ARANA, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO COMPEL RE: DKT. NOS. 40, 50, 52

          PHYLLIS J. HAMILTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This is a civil rights case brought pro se by a state prisoner under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. His claims arise from his detention at San Quentin State Prison (“SQSP”). Plaintiff alleges that the sole defendant in this case, Correctional Officer Arana, searched his cell and confiscated several items. Plaintiff alleges that he told defendant that he would file an administrative grievance if the items were not returned to him and in response defendant threatened him, stating, “I'll get you for that.” Later, after defendant learned that plaintiff was found not guilty at a Rules Violation Report (“RVR”) disciplinary hearing, defendant stated, “[n]o way. I'll fix that, ” according to plaintiff, and immediately spoke with the hearing officer. Plaintiff was found guilty of the violation. Plaintiff further alleges that defendant then stated, “I warned you I'd get you.” The court ordered service on plaintiff's claim of retaliation.

         Presently pending is plaintiff's motion to compel discovery. Defendant filed an opposition and plaintiff filed a reply. For the reasons set forth below, the motion to compel is denied.

         MOTION TO COMPEL

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow liberal discovery. Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart, 467 U.S. 20, 34, (1984). The party resisting discovery has the burden of establishing lack of relevance or undue burden. Oleson v. Kmart Corp., 175 F.R.D. 560, 565 (D. Kan. 1997). The resisting party must demonstrate that the documents sought are not relevant under the broad scope of relevance provided by Rule 26(b)(1), or that the documents are “of such marginal relevance that the potential harm occasioned by disclosure would outweigh the ordinary presumption in favor of broad disclosure . . . .” Burke v. New York City Police Dep't., 115 F.R.D. 220, 224 (S.D.N.Y. 1987). A recitation that the discovery request is “overly broad, burdensome, oppressive and irrelevant” is not adequate to voice a successful objection. Josephs v. Harris Corp., 677 F.2d 985, 992 (3d Cir. 1982). The party resisting discovery must instead “‘show specifically how . . . each interrogatory [or request for production] is not relevant or how each question is overly broad, burdensome or oppressive.'” Id. (omission in original).

         Generally, if the responding party objects to a discovery request, the party moving to compel bears the burden of demonstrating why the objections are not justified. See, e.g., Grabek v. Dickinson, No. CIV S-10-2892 GGH P, 2012 WL 113799, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 13, 2012); Mitchell v. Felker, No. CV 08-119 RAJ, 2010 WL 3835765, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Sep. 29, 2010). This requires the moving party to inform the court which discovery requests are the subject of the motion to compel, and, for each disputed response, why the information sought is relevant and why the responding party's objections are not meritorious.

         Before filing a motion to compel, the moving party must first attempt to resolve the dispute informally with the opposing party. It is only when the parties are unable to resolve the dispute after making a good faith effort to do so that they should seek the court's intervention. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(2)(B); N.D. Cal. Local Rule 37-1. Because plaintiff is incarcerated, he is not required to meet and confer with defendant in person. Rather, if defendant denies plaintiff's discovery requests and if he intends to pursue a motion to compel, he need only send a letter to defendant to that effect, offering him one last opportunity to provide him the sought-after information. The letter should state the specific discovery he seeks and the reasons that he believes he is entitled to such discovery.

         DISCUSSION

         Defendant first argues that plaintiff failed to properly follow the meet and confer process. In response to plaintiff's discovery requests, defendant served responses. Plaintiff sent defendant a letter expressing concerns with the responses, but he did not address which specific responses were at issue. Defendant responded with a letter noting the lack of specific details, but plaintiff failed to provide more specificity and did not state whether his concerns were with the requests for admissions, the requests for production of documents or both. Plaintiff only provided specific arguments with this motion to compel, which did not provide defendant an opportunity to provide the information requested, rather it has imposed the burden on the court. While plaintiff did fail to properly follow the meet and confer process, which could be adequate grounds to deny this motion, the court will discuss each discovery request in turn.[1]

         Interrogatories

- Interrogatory No. 1: State the name and contact information of each person who prepared or assisted with the responses to these interrogatories. Docket No. 40 at 10.

         Plaintiff has been provided with the answer to this interrogatory, so the request to compel an answer is moot.

- Interrogatory No. 4: State your education level and any degree received. Docket No. ...

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