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Campbell v. Dickey

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 23, 2019

P. DICKEY, Defendant.



         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Anthony Tyrone Campbell, Sr. (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action currently proceeds on Plaintiff's second amended complaint against Defendant P. Dickey (“Defendant”) for racial discrimination in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment based on allegations that Defendant assigned Plaintiff to a cell with a gang-affiliated inmate based on Plaintiff's race. (ECF No. 25.)

         Plaintiff asserts that he “submitted” Interrogatories, Set One, on January 29, 2019. (ECF No. 59, at 1.) On March 15, 2019, Defendant served responses to Plaintiff's Interrogatories, Set One. (Id., at 4-22.)

         On March 30, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion for an order compelling discovery pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37(a)(3)(B). (ECF No. 59.) Plaintiff's motion to compel was received by the Court and docketed on April 4, 2019. Defendant has not filed any opposition to Plaintiff's motion to compel, and the time in which to do so has now passed. Therefore, Plaintiff's motion to compel is deemed submitted. Local Rule 230(1).

         II. Plaintiff's Motion for an Order Compelling Discovery

         Plaintiff moves the Court for an order compelling Defendant to provide further responses to Plaintiff's Interrogatories, Set One, numbers 9, 10, 11, and 12. (ECF No. 59.) Plaintiff argues that the Court should order Defendant to provide further responses to the specified interrogatories because the specified interrogatories “are not requiring Defendant to guess … whether or not other compelling complaints” had been submitted against him during Defendant's 16 years of employment. (Id. at 2.) Plaintiff asserts that this information is of “significant importance to [his] claim” against Defendant “because it[']s relevant to the Defendant's existing pattern of serious staff misconduct.” (Id.)

         A. Legal Standard

         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).

         “Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense, ” and information within this scope “need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). An interrogatory may relate to any matter that may be inquired into under Rule 26(b), and 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. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a)(2) (quotation marks omitted). Parties are obligated to respond to interrogatories to the fullest extent possible under oath, Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(b)(3), and 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) (“[O]bjections should be plain enough and specific enough so that the court can understand in what way the interrogatories are alleged to be objectionable.”). 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). Further, the responding party has a duty to supplement any responses if the responding party “learns that in some material respect the … response is incomplete or incorrect, and if the additional or corrective information has not otherwise been made known to the other parties during the discovery process or in writing[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(e)(1)(A).

         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. Grabek v. Dickinson, No. CIV S-10-2892 GGH P, 2012 WL 113799, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 13, 2012); Womack v. Virga, No. CIV S-11-1030 MCE EFB P, 2011 WL 6703958, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 21, 2011). 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. Grabek, 2012 WL 113799, at *1; Womack, 2011 WL 6703958, at *3.

         B. Plaintiff's Interrogatories, Set One, Nos. 9-12

         Interrogatory No. 9:

         Prior to the information entailed in this civil action against you have you ever had any other ...

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