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Cortinas v. Huerta

United States District Court, E.D. California

November 14, 2019

M. HUERTA, et al., Defendants.



         I. BACKGROUND

         Larry William Cortinas (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This case now proceeds with the original Complaint, filed on January 30, 2017, against C/O J. Scalia and C/O M. Huerta (“Defendants”) for use of excessive force in violation of the Eighth Amendment.[1] (ECF No. 1.)

         On February 28, 2019, the court granted Plaintiff's motion to modify the scheduling order and extended the discovery deadline to May 24, 2019, and the dispositive motion filing deadline to July 24, 2019. (ECF No. 44.) The deadlines have now expired.

         On June 4, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel. (ECF No. 46.) On June 21, 2019, Defendants filed an opposition to the motion. (ECF No. 48.) On July 3, 2019, Plaintiff filed a reply. (ECF No. 49.) Plaintiff's motion to compel is now before the court. Local Rule 230(l).


         A. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 26(b), 34, and 37(a)

         Under Rule 26(b), “[U]nless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: 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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).

         Pursuant to Rule 34(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “A party may serve on any other party a request within the scope of Rule 26(b) to produce and permit the requesting party or its representative to inspect, copy, test, or sample the following items in the responding party's possession, custody, or control: any designated documents or electronically stored information--including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations--stored in any medium from which information can be obtained either directly or, if necessary, after translation by the responding party into a reasonably usable form; or any designated tangible things; or to permit entry onto designated land or other property possessed or controlled by the responding party, so that the requesting party may inspect, measure, survey, photograph, test, or sample the property or any designated object or operation on it.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a). “[A] party need not have actual possession of documents to be deemed in control of them.” Clark v. Vega Wholesale Inc., 181 F.R.D. 470, 472 (D. Nev. 1998) quoting Estate of Young v. Holmes, 134 F.R.D. 291, 294 (D. Nev. 1991). “A party that has a legal right to obtain certain documents is deemed to have control of the documents.” Clark, 181 F.R.D. at 472; Allen v. Woodford, No. CV-F-05-1104 OWW LJO, 2007 WL 309945, *2 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 30, 2007) (citing In re Bankers Trust Co., 61 F.3d 465, 469 (6th Cir. 1995)); accord Evans v. Tilton, No. 1:07CV01814 DLB PC, 2010 WL 1136216, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2010).

         Under Rule 34(b), “[t]he party to whom the request is directed must respond in writing within 30 days after being served . . . For each item or category, the response must either state that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested or state with specificity the grounds for objecting to the request, including the reasons . . . An objection must state whether any responsive materials are being withheld on the basis of that objection.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2). Also, “[a] party must produce documents as they are kept in the usual course of business or must organize and label them to correspond to the categories in the request.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(2)(E)(i).

         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)). 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. E.g., Grabek v. Dickinson, No. CIV S-10- 2892 GGH P, 2012 WL 113799, at *1 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 13, 2012); Ellis v. Cambra, No. 1:02-cv- 05646-AWI-SMS (PC), 2008 WL 860523, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 27, 2008). 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 v. Virga, No. CIV S-11-1030 MCE EFB P., 2011 WL 6703958, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 21, 2011).

         B. Plaintiff's Motion

         Plaintiff requests a court order compelling Defendants to produce (1) Medical records entitled “Patient Health Information Portal” for Larry William Cortinas P-09908 for the following years: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019; and (2) C.S.P. Corcoran Unit 4 Facility 3A sign-in log pages for December 31, 2014, second and third watch only, approximately for the hours 0600 to 2200 hours.[2]

         Plaintiff declares that these records are necessary to his case and unavailable to Plaintiff by any other way. (Pltf. Decl., ECF No. 46 at 2 ¶ 1.) Plaintiff claims that the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has refused to provide Plaintiff's medical records that relate to the Patient Health Information Portal, and that these items were not included in the records sent to Plaintiff. (Id. ΒΆΒΆ 2, 3.) According to Plaintiff there are emails ...

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