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Griffin-El v. Beard

March 16, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: L. Felipe Restrepo United States Magistratejudge


Before the Court is Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. No. 69) of paragraph 8 of the Court's prior order dated February 10, 2009 (Doc. No. 68) ordering the production of certain documents, Plaintiff's Opposition thereto (Doc. No. 70), and Defendants' Reply (Doc. No. 71). Also before the Court is Plaintiff's Unopposed Motion for Extension of Discovery (Doc. No. 72). Because Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration is legally deficient and fails to allege appropriate grounds for relief, it is denied; further, because the Court is mindful that Defendants' compliance with the obligations set forth in this Memorandum and Opinion will further delay discovery, Plaintiff's Unopposed Motion for Extension of Discovery is granted.


In this lawsuit, Plaintiff K. Kabasha Griffin-El is suing various employees of the Department of Corrections ("DOC"), claiming violations of his First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, which allegedly occurred as a result of two searches of his prison cell while he was incarcerated at the State Correctional Facility at Graterford ("SCIGraterford"). See Second Am. Compl. ¶¶ 1, 2-105. Plaintiff also seeks a declaratory judgment in this action. Id. ¶¶ 1, 81-83. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because this is a "civil action[] arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." See 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

On February 10, 2009, the Court held a conference call with counsel for both parties in order to resolve a number of discovery disputes, which was the culmination of a series of contentious e-mails and letters between the parties regarding the scope of Plaintiff's discovery requests and the adequacy of Defendants' objections thereto. During the telephone conference, the Court asked the parties to list each dispute and to raise their corresponding arguments. Subsequently, the Court issued an order requiring the production of various documents, records, and other items and outlining the conditions attached thereto. The order was filed on February 10, 2009, but not entered until February 11, 2009. See Order dated 2/10/09 (Doc. No. 68). That same day, on February 11, 2009, Defendants filed the current Motion for Reconsideration, urging the Court to "vacate paragraph 8 of the February 10, 2009 Order and amend[] it" so that Defendants will not have to produce the documents sought by Plaintiff in his first request for documents. Def.'s Mot. Recons. ¶ 9.


In their Motion, Defendants specifically take issue with the Court's order requiring them to comply with Plaintiff's request for the following documents:

All files or records kept by the Prison concerning Plaintiff, including, but not limited to, documents concerning his incarceration at the Prison, inmate status, jobs, education, courses, medical records, psychological records, psychiatric records, counseling records, and/or disciplinary records.

Def.'s Mot. Recons. ¶ 1. Defense counsel objects to the above request because it "was confidential for security reasons," it "is overbroad, unduly burdensome, seeks information that is irrelevant to this case, and is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id. ¶¶ 2-3. Counsel also raised the issue of privilege. Id. ¶ 3. However, when given the opportunity to raise arguments regarding Plaintiff's document requests during the telephone conference, defense counsel focused mainly on the fact that many of the document requests overlapped. To resolve the issue of overlapping document requests, the Court ordered production of the requested documents under the condition that, if the documents had already been produced elsewhere, Defendants would identify specifically where the documents were produced. See Order dated 2/10/09 ¶ 8.

Defendants now contend that Plaintiff limited his request to production of his "prisoner jacket," that paragraph 8 of the Court's February 10, 2009 order requires production of documents from two other prisons which are irrelevant to the disputed issues in this case, that production of medical and psychological records "have no conceivable bearing on this case," and that production of Plaintiff's "psychological, psychiatric and counseling records could jeopardize Plaintiff's treatment and possibly threaten prison security." Def.'s Mot. Recons. ¶¶ 4-8. In their Reply brief, Defendants clarify that they are contesting the discoverability of any "medical, psychiatric, psychological and counseling records" that are kept separately from the prisoner jacket, which is "officially" referred to as the "DC-15." See Def.'s Reply 1, 3.

Plaintiff argues that Defendants fail to allege any appropriate grounds for reconsideration of the Court's discovery order. See Pl.'s Opp. 3-4. Further, Plaintiff alleges that he is entitled to discover his medical, psychological, psychiatric, and counseling records which are contained outside his prisoner jacket, as they are relevant to his claims. Id. at 4-5. Plaintiff contends that these materials fall squarely within "Document Request No 1." Id. at 5.

Because Defendants' Motion is deficient under the Local Rules of Civil Procedure and fails to allege appropriate grounds for reconsideration, it must be denied. Furthermore, irrespective of these deficiencies, Defendants' Motion fails on its merits. Accordingly, the Court will require production of the documents and records at issue which are contained outside Plaintiff's prisoner jacket. To the extent that these materials raise security or treatement concerns or issues of privilege, defense counsel must create a privilege log identifying each specific issue as it allegedly applies to each contested document, and counsel must provide any such documents to the Court for in camera review.


"Local Rule 7.1(g) permits motions for reconsideration." Calhoun v. Mann, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4195, at *1 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 22, 2009) (citing E.D. Pa. Civ. P. 7.1(g)). "A timely motion for reconsideration under Local Rule 7.1(g) is considered analogous to a motion to alter or amend judgment pursuant to Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." Kennedy Indus., Inc. v. Aparo, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46075, at *3 (E.D. Pa. July 6, 2006); see also Calhoun, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4195, at *1-2 (citations omitted). Because Local Rule 7.1(g) "establishes a ten-day deadline to seek reconsideration of an 'order', without placing any limit on that term," it applies to orders resolving discovery disputes. McGinley v. Baratta, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 65075, at *5-6 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 12, 2006) (citing Grider v. Keystone Health Plan Cent., Inc., 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9014, at *26-27 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 26, 2004)); see Grider, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9014, at *26-27 (denying a motion for reconsideration of a discovery order because it was not timely filed under Local Rule 7.1(g)). Since Defendants' Motion was filed on the same day that the Court's order was entered, it is timely.

Local Rule 7.1(c) is also applicable to Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration. See Wright v. Montgomery County, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 900, at *9-11 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 26, 1999) (citations omitted) (treating a motion to enforce a subpoena as uncontested under Local Rule 7.1(c)); see also Hall v. Harleysville Ins. Co., 164 F.R.D. 172, 172 (E.D. Pa. 1995) (reconsidering an order compelling discovery because, since there was a "postal service glitch," the motion was not unopposed under Local Rule 7.1(c)). Local Rule 7.1(c) requires that "Every motion not certified as uncontested, or not governed by Local Civil Rule 26.1(g), shall be accompanied by a brief containing a concise statement of the legal contentions and authorities relied upon in support of the motion." E.D. Pa. R. Civ. P. 7.1(c) (emphases added). Local Rule 26.1(g) concerns motions to compel answers to interrogatories or requests for production for which no timely objections are filed, see E.D. Pa. R. Civ. P. 26.1(g), and since the present Motion is not a motion to compel, Local Rule 7.1(c) clearly applies.

Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration is not accompanied by a brief and fails to cite a single case or Rule of Civil Procedure upon which Defendants rely to support their Motion. See Def.'s Mot. Recons. ¶¶ 1-9. Courts in this jurisdiction have found that motions and memoranda of law that are not accompanied by citations to legal authority or adequate explanations of the bases for the party's arguments are legally deficient under Local Rule 7.1(c), which can warrant denial of the motion. See Purcell v. Universal Bank, N.A., 2003 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 547, at *8-9, *11 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 3, 2003) (citations omitted) (denying a Third-Party Defendant's motion for summary judgment because there were genuine issues of material fact, movant's brief was deficient under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c), and because movant's brief "d[id] not contain the basis for its legal contentions," in violation of Local Rule 7.1(c)); see also Laudenberger v. Sciotti, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11183, at *13-16, *16 n. 3 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 9, 2000) (noting that Defendants' motion to dismiss one of the contested claims was "woefully inadequate" because it failed to cite to legal authority and only "set forth unsupported legal conclusions," but denying the motion to dismiss on its merits); Moore v. Vangelo, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2452, at *17-18 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 12, 2004) (denying Defendants' motion to dismiss one of Plaintiff's claims because Defendants asserted that dismissal was warranted "[i]n conclusory fashion, and without any supporting caselaw" and "failed to set forth a factual or legal basis in support of their contention," contrary to the requirements of Local Rule 7.1(c)).

Since Defendants did not submit a brief, but instead stated their objections in a conclusory fashion without citation to relevant case law or Rules of Civil Procedure, their Motion for Reconsideration is legally deficient under Local Rule 7.1(c). Defendants' thinly-veiled factual assertions and boilerplate, unsupported legal conclusions could alone warrant denial of their Motion. See Moore, 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2452, at *17-18. However, as will be explained ...

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