(PC) Jacobs v. Scribner, et al, No. 1:2006cv01280 - Document 139 (E.D. Cal. 2010)

Court Description: ORDER Denying Plaintiff's 128 Motion to Compel Defendants' Compliance with Court Ordered Supplemental Responses to Plaintiff's Requests for Admissions signed by Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin on 11/08/2010. (Flores, E)
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(PC) Jacobs v. Scribner, et al Doc. 139 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 GEORGE E. JACOBS IV, 12 1:06-cv-01280-AWI-GSA-PC Plaintiff, ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANTS’ COMPLIANCE WITH COURT ORDERED SUPPLEMENTAL RESPONSES TO PLAINTIFF'S REQUESTS FOR ADMISSIONS (Doc. 128.) vs. 13 ALLEN K. SCRIBNER, et al., 14 15 Defendants. 16 17 / I. BACKGROUND 18 Plaintiff George E. Jacobs IV (“Plaintiff”) is a state prisoner proceeding pro se and in forma 19 pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action now proceeds on Plaintiff's 20 original complaint, filed September 18, 2006, against defendants Sgt. J. M. Martinez, C/O German and 21 C/O Northcutt ("Defendants") for use of excessive physical force, and against defendant Sgt. J. M. 22 Martinez for acting with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs.1 (Doc. 1.) The 23 excessive force claim, which is also brought against two Doe defendants, allegedly occurred during the 24 25 26 27 28 1 On June 4, 2007, the Court ordered that this action proceed on Plaintiff's original complaint against defendants Martinez, German, Northcutt, and Does 1 and 2 for use of excessive force, assault and battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress; and against defendants Martinez and Does 3, 4, and 6-10 for acting with deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs; and all other defendants and claims were dismissed by the Court based on Plaintiff's failure to state a claim. (Doc. 17.) On November 16, 2009, summary judgment was granted in favor of Defendants on Plaintiff's claims for assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress under California law. (Doc. 101.) Plaintiff has not sufficiently identified the Doe defendants to enable service of process by the Marshal. See Doc. 101 at 2 fn.2. 1 Dockets.Justia.com 1 escort of Plaintiff from the Acute Care Hospital to the Security Housing Unit on January 26, 2005. The 2 medical care claim against defendant Martinez arises from defendant Martinez’ alleged failure to obtain 3 medical care for Plaintiff on January 27, 2005; and the medical care claims against Does 3, 4, and 6-10 4 arise from the failure to obtain medical care for Plaintiff between January 27, 2005 and February 3, 5 2005. Plaintiff alleges that he was ultimately transported to an outside hospital for emergency medical 6 care on February 2, 2005, and lost the sight in one eye as a result of his injuries. 7 On June 14, 2010, Plaintiff filed a motion to compel Defendants to comply with court-ordered 8 responses to Plaintiff’s Requests for Admissions. (Doc. 128.) On June 25, 2010, Defendants filed an 9 opposition to the motion. (Doc. 129.) 10 II. LEGAL STANDARDS 11 A. 12 Rule 37(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that if a party fails to obey an 13 order to provide or permit discovery, the court may issue further orders, which may include the 14 imposition of sanctions upon the disobedient party. Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2)(A). Rule 37(b)(2) - Failure to Comply With a Discovery Order 15 B. 16 Facts, the application of law to fact, or opinions are subject to requests for admission. Fed. Rule 36 - Requests for Admissions 17 R. Civ. P. 36(a)(1)(A). “If a matter is not admitted, the answer must specifically deny it or state in 18 detail why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny it. A denial must fairly respond to the 19 substance of the matter; and when good faith requires that a party qualify an answer or deny only a 20 part of a matter, the answer must specify the part admitted and qualify or deny the rest. The 21 answering party may assert lack of knowledge or information as a reason for failing to admit or deny 22 only if the party states that it has made reasonable inquiry and that the information it knows or can 23 readily obtain is insufficient to enable it to admit or deny.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(4). “The grounds for 24 objecting to a request must be stated. A party must not object solely on the ground that the request 25 presents a genuine issue for trial.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(5). 26 III. 27 28 PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO COMPEL Plaintiff brings a motion for the Court to compel Defendants to comply with the Court's order of October 28, 2009, which ordered Defendants to provide supplemental responses to Plaintiff’s 2 1 Requests for Admissions. (Doc. 128.) The Court ordered defendant Martinez to respond to 2 Plaintiff’s requests 6, 8-11, 13-15, 17, 18, 21, 22, 35, 36, 39, 49, 50, 55-57, 60, 64, 88, 89, 92, 94, 3 and 96-100; defendant Northcutt to respond to Plaintiff’s requests 4-7, 12, 14-16, 26, 49, 50, 52, 54, 4 57, 59, 60, 63, 64, 71, 73, 74, 76-81, and 86-88; and defendant German to respond to Plaintiff’s 5 requests 3-11, 13-16, 18-20, 27, 50, 53, 55, 56, 58, 59, and 69-73. 6 Plaintiff contends that defendant Martinez failed to comply with the Court’s order with 7 regard to Plaintiff’s request 57; defendant Northcutt failed to comply with regard to requests 5 and 8 88; and defendant German failed to comply with regard to requests 3-11, 13-16, 50, 56, 58, and 73. 9 In opposition, Defendants argue that except for two inadvertent admissions, they have 10 complied with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 36(a)(1)(A). Defendants also argue that Plaintiff 11 should be required to comply with Rule 56(f) by showing what facts he hopes to discover, that these 12 facts actually exist, and that these facts are essential to resist Defendants’ motion for summary 13 judgment filed on May 25, 2010. 14 IV. DISCUSSION 15 Plaintiff argues that Defendants failed to comply with the Court’s order issued on October 16 28, 2009, which ordered Defendants to provide supplemental responses to Plaintiff’s Requests for 17 Admissions. The only issue now before the Court is whether Defendants have complied with the 18 Court’s order.2 The Court here issues rulings on the supplemental responses at issue. 19 A. 20 Request for Admission 57: 21 “Admit or deny that you are (sic) authorized a “Spit Mask” to be placed over Plaintiff’s face/head, on January 26, 2005.” Defendant Martinez 22 Plaintiff argues that defendant Martinez failed to provide any supplemental response to this 23 request. Defendant acknowledges that he inadvertently failed to provide a supplemental response to 24 this request, and now responds as follows in lieu of a supplemental response: 25 26 2 27 28 Defendants argue that Plaintiff should be required to show that the facts he hopes to discover are essential to resist Defendants’ summary judgment. This issue shall not be considered here. Plaintiff’s motion concerns Defendants’ compliance with the Court’s order of October 28, 2009. Defendants’ motion for summary judgment was not filed until May 25, 2010, seven months after the Court issued its order. 3 1 2 “Defendant Martinez admits that Plaintiff wore a spit mask on January 26, 2005; however, based on all readily obtainable information, he is unable to recall whether he ordered that Plaintiff wear a spit mask.” 3 The Court finds this response in compliance with Rule 36. Therefore, Plaintiff’s motion to 4 compel a further response by defendant Martinez to Request 57 is denied. 5 B. Defendant Northcutt 6 Request for Admission 5: 7 8 9 10 “Admit or deny that Plaintiff’s hands were secured behind his back with a pair of handcuffs and the lanyard device attached to the handcuffs with a pad lock, during the entire escort on January 26, 2005.” Plaintiff argues that defendant Northcutt failed to provide any supplemental response to this 11 request. Defendant acknowledges that he inadvertently failed to provide a supplemental response to 12 this request, and now responds as follows in lieu of a supplemental response: 13 14 “Defendant Northcutt admits that Plaintiff was secured by restraints during his escort, however, based on all readily obtainable information, Defendant is unable to recall which restraints were used on January 26, 2005.” 15 The Court finds this response in compliance with Rule 36. Therefore, Plaintiff’s motion to 16 compel a further response by defendant Northcutt to Request 5 is denied. 17 Request for Admission 88: 18 19 "Admit or deny that Plaintiff did not have a cell mate when you picked him from the (ACH) unit cell on January 26, 2005." 20 Supplemental Response to Request 88: 21 24 “After further reasonable inquiry, Defendant does not independently recall escorting Plaintiff or whether Plaintiff had a cell mate on January 26, 2005. Defendant is currently working at Kern Valley State Prison and the incident occurred five years ago at California State Prison, Corcoran. Nonetheless, after review of relevant documents, Defendant is informed and believes that Plaintiff did not have a cell mate while housed in the ACH.” 25 Plaintiff argues that this response is inadequate because defendant Northcutt already 22 23 26 admitted, in his supplemental responses to Plaintiff’s Requests for Admission 16 and 63, that he 27 escorted Plaintiff from the ACH Unit to the SHU Unit. Plaintiff has not submitted any evidence in 28 support of this argument for the Court’s review, and defendant Northcutt’s supplemental responses 4 1 to Requests 16 and 30 are not in the court’s record. Moreover, the inability to independently recall 2 an event does not necessarily conflict with an admission that the event occurred. Under Rule 36, an 3 answering party may make an admission based on either knowledge or information. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4 36(a)(4). Therefore, Plaintiff’s motion to compel a further response from defendant Northcutt to 5 Request 88 is denied. 6 C. 7 Supplemental Responses to Requests for Admission 3-11, 13-16, 50, 56, 58, and 73: 8 Defendant German responds to each of the requests at issue, requests 3-11, 13-16, 50, 56, 58, Defendant German 9 and 73, that he is unable to admit or deny the request because after further reasonable inquiry, he is 10 unable to recall any information responsive to the substance of Plaintiff’s request, and he does not 11 have any documents in his possession, custody, or control that would enable him to admit or deny 12 the request. 13 Plaintiff argues that these responses are inadequate because defendant German has not 14 sufficiently searched the documents available to him. Plaintiff contends that “if defendant has 15 relevant documents which can help him recall supplemental responses to Plaintiff’s Requests for 16 Admissions 19 and 20, than (sic) there really should be no obstacle in defendants path in obtaining 17 the same relevant documents as defendant Northcutt, to help him refresh his memory in answering 18 the compelled request.” MTC, Doc. 128 at 16. Plaintiff contends that defendant German has not 19 complied with the court’s order of October 28, 2009, which ordered him to check all readily 20 obtainable information and provide amended answers. 21 Plaintiff submits no evidence in support of his argument that, based on supplemental 22 responses to Requests 19 and 20, defendant German has relevant documents. Plaintiff has not 23 submitted copies of the supplemental responses to Requests 19 and 20 for the court’s review, and 24 these supplemental responses are not in the court’s record. Plaintiff also fails to specify which 25 documents used by defendant Northcutt he believes are available to defendant German, and why 26 those documents are relevant to defendant German’s supplemental responses. Defendant German’s 27 statement that he “does not have any documents in his possession, custody, or control that would 28 enable him to admit or deny the request” is sufficient to comply with the court’s order of October 28, 5 1 2009 requiring him to “check all readily obtainable information.” The Court finds that defendant 2 German’s responses to Plaintiff’s Requests for Admissions 3-11, 13-16, 50, 56, 58, and 73 are in 3 compliance with Rule 36 which allows the answering party to “assert lack of knowledge or 4 information as a reason for failing to admit or deny only if the party states that it has made 5 reasonable inquiry and that the information it knows or can readily obtain is insufficient to enable it 6 to admit or deny.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 36(a)(4). Therefore, Plaintiff’s motion to compel further 7 responses by defendant German to Requests 3-11, 13-16, 50, 56, 58, or 73 is denied. 8 V. 9 CONCLUSION Based on the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to compel 10 Defendants to comply with court-ordered responses to Plaintiff’s Requests for Admissions, filed on 11 June 14, 2010, is DENIED. 12 13 IT IS SO ORDERED. 14 Dated: 6i0kij November 8, 2010 /s/ Gary S. Austin UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 6