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Skinner v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

July 7, 2014

James E. Skinner, Plaintiff,
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.



This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery in which Plaintiff seeks an order compelling Defendants Heet, Barrios, Hetmer, Kane, Ryan and Fizer to provide complete responses to interrogatories. (Doc. 113) Defendant has filed a Response and Plaintiff has filed a Reply. (Docs. 141, 147)

I. Background

Plaintiff, proceeding pro se, commenced this prisoner civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 on August 14, 2012, by lodging a Complaint. (Docs. 1-2) Plaintiff also requested leave to proceed in forma pauperis, which was granted. (Docs. 3, 6) On September 21, 2012, the assigned District Judge denied Plaintiff's dual request to exceed the page limit and file the 37-page Complaint, but granted Plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint within thirty days thereafter. (Doc. 6)

Plaintiff, a maximum security inmate housed in maximum security units of maximum security prison complexes within the Arizona Department of Corrections, filed a First Amended Complaint on October 2, 2012. (Docs. 8; 141 at 1) Plaintiff raised two grounds for relief against seventeen separate defendants. In Count I, Plaintiff alleged he is being deprived of basic necessities in violation of the Eighth Amendment, including inadequate plumbing in his cell, unsanitary conditions in his cell and other areas, and the failure to provide cleaning supplies to address the unsanitary conditions. Plaintiff claims that, for nine months, he was housed in a cell in which the base of the toilet leaked every time it was used, which caused flooding, and he was not provided adequate supplies to address the problem. He further claims that when he was eventually moved to a different cell in a different housing unit, the walls of the cell appeared to have blood and dried feces on them. He claims that, during the several months he was there, he repeatedly requested supplies to clean his cell but received adequate supplies on only one occasion. Plaintiff also claims that outdoor recreation cages and an outer stairwell were covered with cat waste and pigeon droppings. He claims these contaminants were then tracked back into his cell. Plaintiff claims he informed Defendants of these issues but they failed to take any action to resolve the problems.

In Count II, Plaintiff alleged that prison officials retaliated against him in violation of the First Amendment for filing a previous federal civil rights lawsuit. The District Judge screened the First Amended Complaint in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a) on February 19, 2013. (Doc. 9) The District Judge dismissed Count II for failure to state a claim, along with three defendants, but ordered fourteen defendants to answer the allegations in Count I.[1] (Doc. 9 at 15) Plaintiff seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, along with declaratory and injunctive relief. (Doc. 8 at 20)

II. Motion to Compel

In the February 6, 2014 Motion to Compel, Plaintiff identifies thirty-three interrogatories to which he claims Defendants failed to adequately respond. (Doc. 113) He asks the Court to order more complete responses. Defendants argue in the response that their responses are sufficient and any objections asserted are proper.

A. Legal Standards for Discovery

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) provides that "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense... Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. All discovery is subject to the limitations imposed by Rule 26(b)(2)(C)." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). These limitations reflect that, in addition to being relevant, discovery must also be proportional to the issues and needs of the case. Kaiser v. BMW of North America, LLC, 2013 WL 1856578, at *3 (N.D. Cal. May 2, 2013) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C)). Rule 26(b)(2)(C) provides:

On motion or on its own, the court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed by these rules or by local rules if it determines that:
(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;
(ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or
(iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, ...

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