United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
December 1, 2005.
DAYTON LEBAR, Plaintiff,
SAL P. BAHL; SHARA SAVIEKIS; STACIE GILL; and BONNIE E.L. MYLES; Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES MUNLEY, District Judge
Presently before the Court for disposition are Plaintiff Dayton
Lebar's Motion to Compel Discovery and Defendants' Motion for
Summary Judgment. The Motion to Compel has been fully briefed and
is ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, we will grant
the Motion to Compel in part and reopen discovery. We will
therefore dismiss the Motion for Summary Judgment without
prejudice as premature because further discovery is necessary.
Plaintiff presently has one claim pending against the
defendants. Defendants Sahl Bahl and Shara Saviekis are
Administrators of the Monroe County Children and Youth Services
("CYS"). Defendants Stacie Gill and Bonnie Myles are CYS
caseworkers. Plaintiff alleges that when CYS took his daughter
into protective custody in October 2000, the defendants violated
his due process rights by failing to interview him, failing to
involve him in the development of a Family Service Plan, failing
to confer with him within the required 48 hours, and failing to
conduct an informal hearing within the required 72 hours, all in violation of state law.
In discovery, Plaintiff served the defendants with a request
for production requesting essentially every document or item of
information that relates to him or his children in any way, as
well as all procedures, policies and rules of CYS. (Mot. to
Compl. Ex. A). The defendants provided only those documents that
related to the 72 hour period after it retained custody of
Plaintiff's daughter. Plaintiff now seeks to compel the
production of all of the requested information, and the
defendants oppose the motion by arguing that Plaintiff's request
is overly broad.
While we agree that some of Plaintiff's requests may seek
documents beyond the scope of discovery, this does not relieve
the defendant's duty to respond to the request as required by the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The rule regarding requests for
the production of documents provides:
[T]he party upon whom the request is served shall
serve a written response within 30 days after the
service of the request. . . . The response shall
state, with respect to each item or category, that
inspection and related activities will be permitted
as requested, unless the request is objected to, in
which event the reasons for the objection shall be
stated. If objection is made to part of an item or
category, the part shall be specified and
inspection permitted as to the remaining parts.
FED. R. CIV. P. 34(b) (emphasis added).
Plaintiff argues that the defendants never responded to his
requests. The defendants do not contest this argument. Rather, they argue that the request
is overbroad. Even assuming that the defendants are correct, they
are required to respond with objections to each request, and
specify the objectionable portions of the request. The defendants
are not at liberty to simply ignore discovery requests they deem
overbroad or burdensome.
Furthermore, we find that the defendants have unduly
circumscribed their discovery responses. The defendants do not
present specific objections to each request. Rather, they broadly
object to any document that is not relevant the 72 hour period
immediately following the time they took custody of Plaintiff's
daughter. "Relevant information need not be admissible at trial
if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the
discovery of admissible evidence." FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(1). The
defendants may not limit discovery to solely those documents that
are relevant to a single 72 hour period, but rather must produce
documents that are reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery
of admissible evidence in all issues in the case. Plaintiff
claims that the defendants violated his rights by taking his
daughter into custody without affording him the proper procedural
protections. That some of the procedural protections were
required to be granted in a 72 hour period does not limit the
relevant evidence of the entire case to documents relating solely
to that period, as there are many other issues. Indeed, the
defendants themselves raise other issues, particularly in their
eight separate affirmative defenses, which include violation of
the statute of limitations, qualified immunity, and the absence
of respondeat superior liability. In fact, in their motion for
summary judgment, the defendants argue that they are not liable
because 42 U.S.C. § 1983 liability cannot be predicated on respondeat superior and
it was their attorney who was responsible for providing the
protections at issue. This argument places the relationship
between CYS employees and the attorney directly at issue, and
also calls into question who at CYS is responsible for ensuring
compliance with procedures. Thus, CYS policies and procedures
relating thereto would certainly be discoverable as reasonably
calculated to lead to admissible evidence.
Therefore, we will grant the Motion to Compel in part. We will
order the defendants to respond to Plaintiff's request for
documents, attached as Exhibit A to the Motion to Compel, either
by producing the requested documents or specifically objecting to
the individual requests and stating the grounds for the
objection. The parties shall proceed with discovery from that
point solely on the remaining issues in the requests in Exhibit A
to the Motion to Compel. We will dismiss the motion for summary
judgment and reopen discovery to allow the parties to resolve
these issues. Given the already long history of this case, and
that Plaintiff had ample time to file a motion to compel during
the previous discovery period but waited until the last minute,
we will require an expedited discovery schedule. An appropriate
order follows. ORDER
AND NOW, to wit, this 1st day of December 2005, Plaintiff's
Motion to Compel (Doc. 96) is hereby GRANTED in part. It is
hereby ORDERED that
1. Defendants must file a response to Plaintiff's
Request for Documents on or before December 7, 2005,
containing responses consistent with the requirements
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
2. Discovery is hereby REOPENED, and Defendants'
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 94) is hereby
DISMISSED without prejudice as premature.
3. The case management deadlines are hereby set as
Discovery: Jan. 13, 2006 Dispositive Motions: Jan. 25, 2006
Plaintiff's Expert Report: Jan. 13, 2006 Defendants' Expert Report: Jan. 13, 2006
WE WILL NOT CONSIDER ANY DISCOVERY MOTION FILED AFTER JAN. 13
2006 AND WE WILL GRANT NO FURTHER EXTENSIONS.
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