(PC) Woodall v. State of California et al, No. 1:2008cv01948 - Document 60 (E.D. Cal. 2010)

Court Description: ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART 33 , 34 , 42 and 44 ; Defendants are to serve further response, as stated herein within (30) days, signed by Magistrate Judge Dennis L. Beck on 10/21/2010. (Response due: 11/24/2010 (Martin, S)
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(PC) Woodall v. State of California et al Doc. 60 1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 NICK WOODALL, 10 11 CASE NO. 1:08-CV-01948-OWW-DLB PC Plaintiff, ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF’S MOTIONS TO COMPEL v. 12 STATE OF CALIFORNIA, et al., (DOCS. 33, 34, 42, 44) 13 DEFENDANTS TO SERVE FURTHER RESPONSE WITHIN 30 DAYS Defendants. / 14 15 Plaintiff Nick Woodall (“Plaintiff”) is a prisoner in the custody of the California 16 Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”). Plaintiff is proceeding pro se and in 17 forma pauperis in this civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. This action is proceeding 18 on Plaintiff’s complaint, filed December 22, 2008, against Defendants T. Gonzalez, T. Lawson, 19 Olive, A. Raygosa, M. Sexton, and Valdez for violation of the Eighth Amendment. Pending 20 before the Court are Plaintiff’s motions to compel, filed July 1, July 9, August 12, and August 12 21 of 2010. 22 I. First Motion To Compel Production Of Documents 23 Plaintiff’s first motion to compel production of documents seeks further response to 24 Request Nos. 3 and 4. (Doc. 33.) Defendants filed an opposition on July 19, 2010. (Doc. 36.) 25 Plaintiff filed his reply on July 27, 2010. (Doc. 38.) 26 Defendants contend that Plaintiff’s motion to compel is procedurally defective because 27 Plaintiff did not submit certification that he in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with 28 Defendants prior to filing his motion. (Defs.’ Opp’n 3:9-17, Doc. 36.) Defendants ignore the 1 Dockets.Justia.com 1 Court’s Discovery and Scheduling Order, which specifically waived this requirement as 2 mandatory, though voluntary compliance is encouraged. (Discovery and Scheduling Order ¶ 5, 3 filed April 9, 2010.) This argument fails for all of Defendants’ oppositions to Plaintiff’s motions 4 to compel. The Court will now examine the merits of Plaintiff’s motion. 5 Request No. 3: 6 7 Any and all rules, regulations, and policies of the CDCR and Corcoran State Prison (Corcoran) regarding the treatment of prisoners in conjunction with the use of restraints, and placement in temporary holding cells. Defendants contend that this request is vague, ambiguous, overly broad, and 8 unintelligible. Defendants’ objections are overruled. Plaintiff is requesting rules, regulations, 9 and policies of the CDCR and Corcoran State Prison directly relating to the alleged event in 10 question in this action: Plaintiff being handcuffed while placed in a holding cell. Plaintiff has 11 sufficiently described the document or documents he requests. Defendants cannot reasonably 12 expect Plaintiff, a prisoner, to know what policies were in place regarding the use of restraints on 13 inmates in holding cells. Plaintiff’s request goes beyond Title 15 prison regulations. 14 Defendants are thus ordered to provide further response to Plaintiff’s Request For 15 Production No. 3, Set One, within thirty days from the date of service of this order. 16 Request No. 4: 17 All documents, including without limitation personnel records, pertaining to the employment of each Defendant T. Gonzales III, T. Lawson, A. Olive, L. Valdez, A. Raygosa, and M. Sexton, including but not limited to any and all staff complaints, disciplinaries, and dispositions of such. 18 19 Defendants contend that this request is overbroad, lacks foundation, vague, and calls for 20 documents that are subject to federal common law privilege. Plaintiff requests these documents 21 to demonstrate a pattern of abuse, if any, by the Defendants. 22 This request is overbroad in that it seeks all documents in Defendants’ personnel records 23 regarding any complaint filed against them. Not every disciplinary action relates to the events at 24 issue in this action. Thus, the Court will limit the request to “complaints or disciplinary records 25 for ignoring prisoners’ complaints of pain.” Having limited the scope of the request, Defendants 26 arguments regarding vagueness is moot. 27 Defendants’ objection as to lack of foundation is overruled. Foundation goes towards the 28 admissibility of evidence, which is not a limitation in discovery. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) 2 1 (relevant information in discovery need not be admissible); United States v. City of Torrance, 2 163 F.R.D. 590, 592 (C.D. Cal. 1995). A prior disciplinary history of ignoring prisoners’ 3 complaints of pain could lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, as it could demonstrate 4 motive or pattern of behavior on the part of Defendants. The time limit will be five years prior to 5 the date of the incident in question, September 13, 2007. 6 Defendants contend that their personnel records fall within federal common law privilege. 7 Federal law regarding privilege applies to federal question cases. Fed. R. Evid. 501; see United 8 States v. Zolin, 491 U.S. 554, 562 (1989). State law may provide guidance, but it is not the law 9 of the circuit. Green v. Baca, 226 F.R.D. 624, 643-44 (C.D. Cal. 2005). Federal common law 10 recognizes a qualified privilege for official information, including government personnel files. 11 Kerr v. United States Dist. Ct. for N.D. Cal., 511 F.2d 192, 198 (9th Cir. 1975); Soto v. City of 12 Concord, 162 F.R.D. 603, 613 (N.D. Cal. 1995). In determining whether information sought is 13 privileged, the Court must weigh the potential benefits of disclosure against the potential 14 disadvantages to the party asserting the privilege. Sanchez v. City of Santa Ana, 936 F.2d 1027, 15 1033-34 (9th Cir. 1990). 16 In order to demonstrate privilege, Defendants must make a substantial threshold showing, 17 such as an affidavit from a responsible official with personal knowledge of the matter. Soto, 162 18 F.R.D. at 613. Defendants contend that a general search of their personnel records reaches well 19 beyond the necessary legitimate inquiry. The Court limits Plaintiff’s request to complaints and 20 disciplinary records for ignoring prisoners’ complaints of pain. As Defendants have yet to 21 respond to this more narrow request, Defendants are ordered to serve further response within 22 thirty days from the date of service of this order. 23 II. Motion To Compel - Interrogatories And Admissions 24 Plaintiff filed his motion to compel further response to his interrogatories and admissions 25 on July 9, 2010. (Doc. 34.) Defendants filed their opposition on July 26, 2010. (Doc. 37.) 26 Plaintiff filed his reply on August 3, 2010. (Doc. 39.) 27 // 28 /// 3 1 A. Defendant Gonzalez 2 Interrogatory No. 1: 3 Describe in as much detail as possible every CSP-Corcoran policy, procedure, and practice (in effect on September 13, 1007) that governs the use of mechanical restraints, including but not limited to their use in conjunction with temporary holding cells. 4 5 Defendant contends that this request is overly broad and vague. The Court agrees that a 6 detailed response from Defendant would be unduly burdensome. However, Defendant may 7 respond to such an interrogatory by producing business records that are responsive. Fed. R. Civ. 8 P. 3(d). Plaintiff also made a substantially similar discovery request in Request For Production 9 No. 3, Set One, to which Defendants have been ordered to provide further response. 10 Accordingly, Defendant Gonzalez is ordered to provide further response to Interrogatory No. 1. 11 Admission No. 1: 12 13 Please admit that prior to September 13, 2007, you received training pertaining to inmates shall not wear mechanical restraints in the holding cell unless a clear danger to themselves or others exists. Defendant Gonzalez responded, “Responding Party objects to this request on the grounds 14 that it is overly broad, vague and ambiguous in its entirety, and unintelligible. Without waiving 15 these objections, Responding Party admits that, before September 13, 2007, he had received 16 training on the need and proper use of mechanical restraints on inmates that are housed in 17 holding cells.” Defendant contends that despite his objections, he responded to the best of his 18 ability. 19 The purpose of a request for admission is to eliminate issues that are not in dispute 20 between the parties. Asea, Inc. v. Southern Pacific Transport Co., 669 F.2d 1242, 245 (9th Cir. 21 1981). Thus, requests for admissions are not principally discovery devices and should not be 22 used as a substitute for other discovery processes to uncover evidence. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. v. 23 Rawstron, 181 F.R.D. 441, 445 (C.D. Cal. 1998). 24 Defendant in effect admits that he received training as to the proper use of mechanical 25 restraints on inmates that are housed in holding cells before September 13, 2007, but denies the 26 rest of Plaintiff’s request for admission. The Court construes this as a sufficient response by 27 Defendant. Plaintiff’s motion to compel further response from Defendant Gonzalez to Request 28 for Admission No. 1 is denied. 4 1 B. Defendant A. Olive 2 Admission No. 1: 3 Plaintiff requests the same admission as against Defendant Gonzalez. Defendant Olive 4 responded in the same manner as Defendant Gonzalez did. This is a sufficient response, as stated 5 above regarding Defendant Gonzalez. This is a sufficient response as stated above regarding 6 Defendant Gonzalez. 7 Admissions Nos. 2, 3, and 5-8: 8 Plaintiff moves to compel further response to Requests for Admissions Nos. 2,3, and 5-8. 9 Plaintiff requests admission or denial of specific facts. Defendant Olive responded by stating 10 that he did not have a recollection of the incident alleged in Plaintiff’s complaint or the facts 11 alleged in the request. Defendant thus was unable to admit or deny the requests. 12 Defendant Olive responded to Plaintiff’s requests for admission by stating that he did not 13 recall those incidents. Defendant has provided a sufficient response for why he is unable to 14 admit or deny the requests for admission. The Court cannot compel Defendant to admit or deny 15 a fact for an incident that he does not recall. Absent a particularized showing of proof otherwise, 16 no further response is necessary. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to compel further response 17 from Defendant Olive to Requests For Admission Nos. 1-3 and 5-8 is denied. 18 C. Defendant Lawson 19 Admission No. 1: 20 Plaintiff requests the same admission as against Defendant Gonzalez. Defendant Lawson 21 responded in the same manner as Defendant Gonzalez did. This is a sufficient response, as stated 22 above regarding Defendant Gonzalez. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to compel further response 23 from Defendant Lawson to Request For Admission No. 1 is denied. 24 D. Defendant Sexton 25 Interrogatory No. 3: 26 Describe in as much detail as possible every CSP-Corcoran policy, procedure, and practice (in effect on September 13, 1007) that governs the use of mechanical restraints, including but not limited to their use in conjunction with temporary holding cells. 27 28 /// 5 1 Defendant Sexton responded, “Responding party objects to this interrogatory on the 2 grounds that it is unduly burdensome and overly broad.” 3 The Court finds that this interrogatory is unduly burdensome if Defendant Sexton was to 4 respond in detail. However, Defendant may respond by the production of business records. 5 Defendants have also been ordered to provide further response to Request For Production No. 1 6 for a substantially similar request. Accordingly, Defendant Sexton is to provide further response 7 to Interrogatory No. 3 within thirty days from the date of service of this order. 8 Admission No. 1: 9 Plaintiff requests the same admission as above to Defendant Gonzalez. Defendant Sexton 10 responded in the same manner as Defendant Gonzalez. The Court finds Defendant Sexton’s 11 response to be sufficient. The Court denies Plaintiff’s motion to compel further response to 12 Admission No. 1, as described above. 13 E. Defendant A. Raygosa 14 Admission No. 1: 15 Plaintiff requests the same admission as above to Defendant Gonzalez. Defendant 16 Raygosa responded in the same manner as Defendant Gonzalez. Defendant’s response is 17 sufficient, as described above regarding Defendant Gonzalez. The Court denies Plaintiff’s 18 motion to compel further response to Admission No. 1. 19 Admissions Nos. 2, 3, and 5-8: 20 Plaintiff moves to compel further response to Requests for Admissions Nos. 2,3, and 5-8. 21 Plaintiff requests admission or denial of specific facts. Defendant Raygosa responded by stating 22 that he did not have a recollection of the incident alleged in Plaintiff’s complaint or the facts 23 alleged in the request. Defendant thus was unable to admit or deny the requests. 24 Defendant Raygosa responded to Plaintiff’s requests for admission by stating that he did 25 not recall those incidents. Defendant has provided a sufficient response for why he is unable to 26 admit or deny the requests for admission. The Court cannot compel Defendant to admit or deny 27 a fact for an incident that he does not recall. Absent a particularized showing of proof otherwise, 28 no further response is necessary. Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to compel further response 6 1 from Defendant Raygosa to Requests For Admission Nos. 1-3 and 5-8 is denied. 2 III. Second Motion To Compel Production Of Documents 3 Plaintiff filed his second motion to compel production of documents on August 12, 2010. 4 (Doc. 42.) Defendants filed their opposition on August 24, 2010. (Doc. 46.) Plaintiff filed his 5 reply on September 3, 2010. (Doc. 50.) 6 7 Plaintiff moves to compel the production of the following documents: 1) Corcoran State Prison Facility 3A Second Watch Facility Sergeant’s Post 8 Orders current as of September 13, 2007; 9 10 2) the completed holding cell log relative to Plaintiff, dated September 13, 2007; 3) Corcoran State Prison’s In-Service-Training Signature sheet reflecting T. 11 Gonzalez, T. Lawson, A. Olive, and M. Sexton receiving training relative to Operational 12 Procedure #241 (Holding Cell Procedure) prior to September 13, 2007; 13 4) Corcoran State Prison Facility 3A Second Watch Daily Activity Log, dated 14 September 13, 2007; 15 5) complete crime/incident report (CDCR Form 837) Incident Package, relative to 16 the investigation and resultant search of Plaintiff’s cell by Investigative Service Unit (ISU) in 17 Housing Unit 3A01, cell #125; 18 6) all documents, reports relative to the investigation which resulted in the 19 searching of Plaintiff’s cell in housing Unit 3A01, Cell #125, on September 13, 2007; 20 7) Corcoran State Prison’s First Watch Activity Logs for September 12 and 21 September 13, 2007; 22 8) Corcoran State Prison’s Second Watch Activity Logs for September 13, 2007; 23 10) Corcoran State Prison’s Investigative Services Unit First Watch Activity Log, 24 dated September 12, 2007. (Pl.’s Mot. Compel 2-3, Doc. 42.) 25 Defendants contend that they not have custody, control, or possession of the above 26 requested documents. (Defs.’ Opp’n 2:4-18.) Defendants argue that requiring them to produce 27 these documents is essentially forcing Defendants to assist Plaintiff in his litigation. (Id.) 28 Defendants suggest that Plaintiff should request a subpoena duces tecum. (Id.) 7 1 If Defendants are attempting to avoid production by contending that they are not in 2 possession, custody or control of the requested documents, that objection is denied. The specific 3 facts of this action render such an objection unfounded. By virtue of their employment with non4 party CDCR, individual defendants are represented by the Attorney General’s Office. It is this 5 Court’s experience that either individual defendants who are employed by CDCR and/or the 6 Attorney General can generally obtain documents, such as the ones at issue here, from CDCR by 7 requesting them. If this is the case, then, based on their relationship with CDCR, they have 8 constructive control over the requested documents and the documents must be produced. See, 9 e.g., Mitchell v. Adams, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24289, * 24-25, 2009 WL 674348, *9 (E.D. Cal. 10 Mar. 6, 2009) (even though defendant warden was sued in his individual capacity, he had 11 constructive control over requested documents because he had authority to obtain the requested 12 documents from third party CDCR); see also Gray v. Faulkner, 148 F.R.D. 220, 223-24 (N.D. 13 Ind.1992) (requiring certification that responding party “have conducted a search for the 14 information reasonably available to them through their agents, attorneys, or others subject to their 15 control and have determined that the information requested either does not exist or that it has 16 been produced.”). 17 If Defendants choose to stand on this objection, they must provide factual support for the 18 assertion that, in spite of their relationship to CDCR, they do not have possession, custody or 19 control of the requested documents. Defendants should also be mindful of the fact that they will 20 be precluded from using the requested documents, or any documents of this kind, as evidence in 21 support of summary judgment, in opposition to any of Plaintiff’s positions, and in any way 22 during trial. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(c)(1). Should Defendants stand on this objection and 23 subsequently seek to use the requested documents or like documents, they must, at minimum, 24 supplement their responses, and explain the method by which they obtained the documents. Id. 25 Most importantly, they will also be required to demonstrate that the prior objection was taken in 26 good faith given that they now have and seek to use the requested documents. Id. 26(e)(1). 27 Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion to compel further response to his second request for 28 production of documents is granted. Defendants are to provide further response within thirty 8 1 days from the date of service of this order. 2 IV. Third Motion To Compel Production Of Documents 3 Plaintiff filed his third motion to compel production of documents on August 12, 2010. 4 (Doc. 44.) Defendants filed their opposition on August 24, 2010. (Doc. 47.) Plaintiff filed his 5 reply on September 3, 2010. (Doc. 51.) 6 Plaintiff moves to compel the production of the following documents: 7 1) complete copies of any and all pages of Corcoran State Prison’s Watch Office 8 Sergeant’s Logbook and Officer’s Logbook, from September 12, 2007 at 2200 hours through 9 September 13, 2007, at 1400 hours; 10 2) complete copies of any and all pages of Corcoran State Prison Facility 3A 11 Medical Clinic’s Logbook, beginning September 12, 2007 at 2200 hours through September 13, 12 2007 at 1400 hours; 13 3) complete copies of any and all pages of Corcoran State Prison Facility 3A 14 Sergeant’s Logbook, beginning September 12, 2007 at 2200 hours through September 13, 2007 15 at 1400 hours; 16 4) complete copies of any and all pages of Corcoran State Prison Investigative 17 Services Unit Officer’s, Sergeant’s, and Lieutenant’s Logbook beginning September 12, 2007 at 18 2200 hours through September 13, 2007 at 1400 hours; 19 5) complete copies of any and all pages of Corcoran State Prison John D. Klarich 20 Memorial Hospital Emergency Room Logbook, beginning September 12, 2007 at 2200 hours 21 through September 13, 2007 at 1400 hours; 22 6) complete copies of any and all pages of Corcoran State Prison Facility 3A, 23 Housing Unit 01, Control Booth Officer’s and Floor Officer’s Logbook, beginning September 24 12, 2007 at 2200 hours through September 13, 2007 at 1400 hours; 25 7) complete copies of any and all pages of Corcoran State Prison Institutional 26 Gang Investigation Officer’s Logbook, beginning September 12, 2007 at 2200 hours through 27 September 13, 2007 at 1400 hours; 28 8) complete copies of any and all pages of Corcoran State Prison Staff Sign9 1 In/Out Sheets (“FLSA/PPAS”), beginning September 12, 2007 at 2200 hours through September 2 13, 2007 at 1400 hours for Facility 3A, John D. Klarich Memorial Hospital, Investigative 3 Services Unit, Institutional Gang Investigation Staff, and Watch Office Staff. 4 Defendants responded by stating that they did not have possession, custody, or control 5 over the above requested documents. For the reasons stated previously regarding Plaintiff’s 6 second motion to compel the production of documents Defendants are to provide further 7 response to Plaintiff’s third request for production of documents within thirty days from the date 8 of service of this order. 9 V. Conclusion And Order 10 Based on the foregoing, it is HEREBY ORDERED that: 11 1) 12 13 Plaintiff’s first motion to compel production of documents, filed July 1, 2010, is GRANTED as stated herein; 2) Plaintiff’s motion to compel further response to interrogatories and admissions, 14 filed July 9, 2010, is GRANTED as to Plaintiff’s Interrogatories, and DENIED as 15 to Plaintiff’s Requests For Admission, as stated herein; 16 3) 17 18 2010, is GRANTED as stated herein; 4) 19 20 Plaintiff’s second motion to compel production of documents, filed August 12, Plaintiff’s third motion to compel production of documents, filed August 12, 2010, is GRANTED as stated herein; and 5) 21 Defendants are to serve further response, as stated herein, within thirty (30) days from the date of service of this order. 22 23 24 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: 3b142a October 21, 2010 /s/ Dennis L. Beck UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 25 26 27 28 10