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Tran v. Young

United States District Court, E.D. California

January 7, 2020

BINH C. TRAN, Plaintiff,
K. YOUNG, et al., Defendants.



         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims defendants violated his rights when they failed to protect him, deprived him of due process during the disciplinary hearing process, and treated him differently than other inmates. Presently before the court is plaintiff's motion to compel (ECF No. 50), defendants' opposition (ECF No. 51), and plaintiff's reply (ECF No. 56). For the reasons set forth below, the court will deny the motion to compel without prejudice.


         I. Plaintiff's Motion

         Plaintiff states he submitted requests for various documents, but defendants are withholding such evidence. (ECF No. 50.) Plaintiff additionally argues that defendants failed to comply with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)'s initial disclosure requirement. Plaintiff also states he attempted to resolve the dispute. Plaintiff further argues that defendants' arguments in support of their objections are frivolous. Finally, he argues that each item of evidence he seeks is relevant to his claims. He states that the information could be admissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b) to show “proof of motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, or absence of mistake or accident.” (Id. at 3.)

         II. Defendants' Opposition

         Defendants argue that plaintiff's motion fails to establish what documents he seeks and why the responses are deficient. (ECF No. 51.) Defendants also argue they are immune from initial disclosure requirements. While noting that plaintiff failed to indicate which specific requests are at issue in the motion to compel, defendants provided the requests, their responses, and arguments related to several requests that appear to encompass the request made in plaintiff's motion to compel.

         III. Legal Standards for Motions to Compel

         Under Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged 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).

         “Relevance for purposes of discovery is defined very broadly.” Garneau v. City of Seattle, 147 F.3d 802, 812 (9th Cir. 1998). In response to a request for production of documents under Rule 34, a party is to produce all relevant documents in its “possession, custody, or control.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a)(1). 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 Univ., 245 F.R.D. 646, 648 (C.D. Cal. 2007) (quotation and citation omitted).

         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 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) (citations omitted). Specifically, 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).

         IV. Analysis

         A. This Action is Exempt from Rule 26(a)'s Initial ...

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