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Dickson v. Gomez

United States District Court, E.D. California

January 8, 2020

CHRISTOPHER DICKSON, Plaintiff,
v.
G. GOMEZ, et al. Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER (ECF NO. 38) ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME TO FILE RESPONSE TO DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT (ECF NO. 42)

          BARBARA A. MCAULIFFE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff Christopher Dickson is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

         I. Introduction

         This action currently proceeds on Plaintiff's second amended complaint for excessive force against Defendants Gomez, Rios, and Martinez, for violations of Plaintiff's due process rights against Defendants Duncan and Esparza, and for deliberate indifference to serious medical needs against Defendant Sao. (ECF No. 23.)

         On September 10, 2019, Defendants Duncan, Esparza, Gomez, Martinez, Rios, and Sao filed an answer to Plaintiff's second amended complaint. (ECF No. 32.)

         On October 10, 2019, the Court issued the discovery and scheduling order. (ECF No. 36.)

         On December 3, 2019, Defendants Duncan, Esparza, Gomez, Martinez, Rios, and Sao filed a motion for summary judgment for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. (ECF No. 37.) Plaintiff's response to Defendants' summary judgment motion was due on or before December 27, 2019.

         Also, on December 3, 2019, Defendants filed a motion for a protective order to stay all currently propounded and future discovery in this matter until the Court decides Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 38.) On December 23, 2019, Plaintiff filed his opposition to Defendants' motion for protective order. (ECF No. 43.) No. reply has been filed, and the time in which to do so has lapsed.

         On December 23, 2019, Plaintiff also filed a motion for an extension of time to file a response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 42.) On January 2, 2020, Defendants filed an opposition to Plaintiff's motion for an extension of time. (ECF No. 44.) Although Plaintiff has not had an opportunity to file a reply, the Court finds that a reply is unnecessary.

         Therefore, both Defendants' motion for protective order and Plaintiff's motion for an extension of time to file a response to Defendants' motion for summary judgment are deemed submitted. Local Rule 230(1).

         II. Defendants' Motion for Protective Order

         The Court is vested with broad discretion to manage discovery. Dichter-Mad Family Partners, LLP v. U.S., 709 F.3d 749, 751 (9th Cir. 2013) (per curiam); Hunt v. Cnty. of Orange, 672 F.3d 606, 616 (9th Cir. 2012); Surfvivor Media, Inc. v. Survivor Prods., 406 F.3d 625, 635 (9th Cir. 2005); Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002). Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c)(1), the Court may, for good cause, issue a protective order forbidding or limiting discovery. The avoidance of undue burden or expense is grounds for the issuance of a protective order, Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c), and a stay of discovery pending resolution of potentially dispositive issues furthers the goal of efficiency for the courts and the litigants, Little v. City of Seattle, 863 F.2d 681, 685 (9th Cir. 1988) (stay of discovery pending resolution of immunity issue). The propriety of delaying discovery on the merits of the plaintiff's claims pending resolution of an exhaustion-based summary judgment motion was explicitly recognized by the Ninth Circuit. Albino v. Baca, 747 F.3d 1162, 1170-71 (9th Cir. 2014) (en banc); see also Gibbs v. Carson, No. C-13-0860 THE (PR), 2014 WL 172187, at *2-3 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 15, 2014).

         Here, Defendants move for a protective order staying all discovery in this matter, including discovery that has already been propounded, until the Court rules on Defendants' pending motion for summary judgment for failure to exhaust administrative remedies. (ECF No. 38.)

         The failure to exhaust administrative remedies prior to filing suit is an affirmative defense, and Defendants are entitled to judgment on Plaintiff's claims against them if the Court determines that Plaintiff's claims were unexhausted when Plaintiff filed suit. Albino, 747 F.3d at 1166. Thus, Defendants' pending exhaustion-based summary judgment motion has the potential to bring final resolution to this action, obviating the need for merits-based discovery. Gibbs, 2014 WL 172187, at *3. In Albino, the Ninth Circuit recognized that “[e]xhaustion should be decided, if feasible, before reaching the merits of a prisoner's claims, ” and “discovery directed to the merits of the suit” should be left until later. Albino, 747 F.3d at 1170. To the extent that Plaintiff needs specific discovery to address the issues raised in Defendants' exhaustion-based summary judgment motion, then Plaintiff is entitled to obtain exhaustion-related ...


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