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Harrison v. Ryan

United States District Court, D. Arizona

December 24, 2014

Chad Lucas Harrison, Plaintiff,
v.
Charles L. Ryan, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

EILEEN S. WILLETT, Magistrate Judge.

Plaintiff is an inmate in custody at the Arizona Department of Corrections. He filed a Complaint (Doc. 1) pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging Defendants violated his civil rights. Plaintiff filed a document on October 22, 2014 (Doc. 62) which the Court has deemed to be a Motion to Compel. See Order filed October 31, 2014 (Doc. 66). Plaintiff asserts that documents identified in his Request for Production dated August 4, 2014 (Doc. 62, Ex. D) have not been produced. Plaintiff fails to provide any specific objection to the Defendants' responses to Request for Production numbers 3, 11-13, and 15. Therefore, the Court must limit its review and analysis to Request for Production numbers 1-2, 4-10, and 14 (Doc. 62, Ex. D). See Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a) and L.R.Civ. 7.2(j). Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 62) is denied as to Request for Production numbers 3, 11-13, and 15.

DISCUSSION

I. Duty to in Good Faith Confer or Attempt to Confer with Opposing Party Before Filing a Motion to Compel

Rule 37(a)(1), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires that a party's motion to compel include a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the opposing party in an effort to obtain the sought discovery without Court intervention. Local Rule of Civil Procedure 7.2(j), as well as this Court's Scheduling Order (Doc. 17), further requires personal or telephonic consultation between the parties prior to the filing of a motion to compel. Plaintiff failed to include his required certification that such efforts were actually made. For this reason alone, the Motion to Compel (Doc. 62) may be denied. However, the Court has reviewed the merits of the discovery at issue for reasons of judicial economy.

II. Plaintiff's Request for Production

The law provides that a party may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to a party's claim. The relevant information need not be admissible at trial if it is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). All discovery is, however, subject to reasonable limitations by the Court when "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, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C)(iii).

Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) alleges that Defendants violated Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment rights when Defendants approved Plaintiff for protective segregation but did not provide adequate protection for Plaintiff from injury by other inmates. Plaintiff seeks a number of items in his Request for Production which Plaintiff argues are relevant to his case.

A. Request No. 1: "Any and all e-mails between Defendant Charles Ryan and Stacey Crabtree and Marlene Coffey concerning the Plaintiff's requests for safety and classification and appeals." (Doc. 62 at 23)

Plaintiff identifies Marlene Coffey as a protective custody administrator for the Department of Corrections. Though Ms. Coffey is not a named Defendant, she is in the employ of the institution at which Plaintiff is incarcerated and where his alleged injuries were sustained. Mr. Ryan and Ms. Crabtree are named as Defendants. The Plaintiff has limited the scope of the email requested to those emails "concerning Plaintiff's requests for safety and classification and appeals." The identified topics are arguably relevant to Plaintiff's claim or calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence. Further, the Court interprets the request to limit the email correspondence among the identified sender/recipients only and the information regarding only Plaintiff. Specifically, emails from any of the three named individuals to any of the three individuals about Plaintiff. The Court imposes a timeframe of 2008 to the present, as Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. 1) alleges continuing harm from 2008.

Therefore, the Motion to Compel (Doc. 62) is granted in part as set forth herein as to Request for Production No. 1. If emails obtained by Defendants refer to additional inmates, an in camera inspection and redaction may be requested. Defendants indicate that, as a result of their search to date, no emails exist that fall within the parameters set forth by the Court. Defendants have a continuing obligation to disclose information deemed relevant by the Court.

B. Request No. 2: "Any and all grievances, inmate letters and complaints, Classification documents and appeals received by prison staff, Defendants and their agents concerning Plaintiff from 2008 until present day Aug. 4th, 2014." (Doc. 62 at 23)

The Court finds that all grievances, inmate letters, complaints, and appeals generated by Plaintiff to the Defendants, prison staff, and Defendants' agents from 2008 to August 4, 2014 are relevant and discoverable. Classification documents as identified by the Defendants in their Response (Doc. 73 at 7) are also relevant. The described methodology for disclosure set forth by Defendants is deemed reasonable. (Doc. 73 at 7-9) However, whether Plaintiff was actually housed with an inmate who actively appeared on Plaintiff's "Do Not House With List" from 2008 when Defendants were seeking to separate the individuals is discoverable information. If such an event occurred, then the time period and housing location for the event shall be identified. Further briefing regarding damages and security issues will be necessary before the Court would consider whether the identity of any such inmates on Plaintiff's "Do Not House With List" are discoverable in this case.

C. Request No. 4: "All documentation listing all inmates (total number) being housed at ASPC Complex Lewis Detention Centers, and isolation cells for refusing to house, requesting protection from dangerous inmates and those incident reports." (Doc. 62 at 24)

The Court sustains Defendants' objection to Request No. 4 for the reasons set forth by the Defendants in their Response (Doc. 73 at 9-10). Statistical information capturing numerical bed capacity, inmate population, and length of stay averages from 2008 is a matter of public record.

D. Request No. 5: "All documentation and e-mails, notes referring to current policy at AZ State Prison Complex Lewis Protective Segregation units, on how to handle inmate requests for protection, no longer being able to use Policy 805 Protective Segregation Custody as it no longer applies to inmates already in P.S." (Doc. 62 at 24)

The Court finds that Defendants' written policies and procedures which discuss Protective Segregation and Protective Segregation limits as related to inmate safety and inmate requests for protection are relevant and discoverable. Specific Department of Correction actions regarding specific inmate requests other than Plaintiff's requests are not. Unwritten policy is not discoverable by a Request for Production of Documents. The Defendants have complied with production of relevant documentation as outlined in Defendants' Response. (Doc. 73 at 10-12) Defendants continue to provide relevant email as discovered, if any. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 62) is granted in part and denied in part as set forth herein.

E. Request No. 6: "Total number of aggrivated [sic] refusal to house tickets given out since 2009 to all inmates housed at AZ State Prison Complex Lewis P.S. units to present day." (Doc. 62 at 24)

The Court finds that the information sought is not properly posited as a Request for Production. The Defendants' objection is sustained.

F. Request No. 7: "All documents and notes for staff at Lewis Complex on how to handle inmates charged with aggrivated [sic] to house tickets, what is the current policy on what property they are allowed to possess in detention cells, no store for refusal to house inmates, no phone calls. They have a current policy stating refusals to house get no personal property in cells. No store, no phone, etc. I need these documents please." (Doc. 62 at 24)

The Court finds that the information sought is relevant. However, Defendants have produced Department Orders 704, 803, 804, and 909 in response to Plaintiff's compound Request No. 7. The Court has no reasonable basis to conclude that Defendants have not fully complied with Plaintiff's request. Therefore, the Motion to Compel (Doc. 62) for Request No. 7 is denied.

G. Request No. 8: "All documents relating to total number of assaults physical and sexual assaults reported by victims on all Arizona State Prison Complex Lewis Protective Custody yards from 2008 to present day Aug. 4th, 2014." (Doc. 62 at 25)

The Court finds that Plaintiff's request for sexual assault records is overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not relevant to Plaintiff's claim. Plaintiff has not alleged that he is the victim of a sexual assault as a result of Defendants' alleged conduct. In addition, the medical records of third parties are privileged. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 62) is denied as to reports regarding sexual assaults.

With regard to Plaintiff's request for documents relating to physical assaults from 2008-August 4, 2014 which occurred in Lewis Protective Custody yards, the Court finds that incidents of physical assaults during such time period are relevant only if (i) the assault occurred at the same facility at which Plaintiff was housed and (ii) the assault occurred while Plaintiff was housed at that facility. However, all identifying information as to the inmates involved in the assaults shall be redacted from the documents. Further security issues which such reports may raise shall be presented to the Court for in camera review as unredacted documents with a corresponding set of proposed redacted documents for the Court's consideration. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 62) regarding assault incident reports as further limited above is granted.

H. Request No. 9: "All documents and data showing total number of known prison gang members being housed on all Lewis Complex Protective Custody units-STG and Renouncers." (Doc. 62 at 25)

The Court finds that the Motion to Compel (Doc. 62) regarding this item is now moot. Defendants have indicated in their response that "validated gang members are housed at ASPC-Eyman, Browning Unit. Only gang members who have renounced their gang affiliations have [sic] are housed on protective custody yards." (Doc. 73 at 16) The response is deemed sufficient to the request.

I. Request No. 10: "All documents notes or data showing what usually happens to known snitches, ' informants' and inmates accused of sex crimes against children or Arizona prison yards where other dangerous inmates can have contact with these inmates." (Doc. 62 at 25)

The Defendants' objection is sustained as to Request No. 10. Plaintiff's request is vague, overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not relevant.

J. Request No. 14: "Documents and all reporting concerning all inmate deaths on Lewis P.C. yards from assaults, drug overdose and any other reasons from 2008 to present." (Doc. 62 at 26)

The Court finds that Plaintiff's request regarding reports concerning inmate deaths from drug overdose and "any other reason" is overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not relevant to the issues raised by Plaintiff's claim against Defendants. Reports regarding inmate deaths occurring from 2008 to the present are relevant only if (i) the death resulted from an assault that occurred at the same protective custody yard at which Plaintiff was housed and (ii) the assault occurred while Plaintiff was housed at that yard. Such reports shall be redacted to delete all identifying information of the decedent and any other inmates. If further release of information is alleged to be a risk to security, the Defendants shall present the unredacted reports for in camera inspection with a proposed redaction for the Court's consideration.

K. Plaintiff's Request that all Discovery be Sent Directly to Plaintiff and that he Maintain Possession of CO III Logs. (Doc 62 at 20)

The Court deems the issue of delivery and possession of ADOC paperwork to be a request for injunctive relief. Under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A), a Magistrate Judge does not have the authority to decide motions for injunctive relief. The Magistrate Judge therefore advises that the reference is ready to be withdrawn as to Plaintiff's requests for injunctive relief contained in Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 62).

CONCLUSION

Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 62) is granted as to Request for Production numbers 1-2, 5, 8, and 14, subject to the limitations as set forth herein.

IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 62) is denied as to Request for Production numbers 3-4, 6-7, 9-13, and 15.

IT IS ORDERED that for good cause shown, Plaintiff's Motion to Enlarge Deadline to Submit Interrogatories (Doc. 62 at 19) is granted. It is ordered extending Plaintiff's deadline to propound interrogatories on Defendants for another 20 days from the date of the filing of this Order.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED withdrawing the reference to the Magistrate Judge as to Plaintiff's requests for injunctive relief contained in Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 62).


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