The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rambo
Presently before the court are Plaintiff Kareem Hassan Milhouse's motion for discovery (Doc. 164) in which Plaintiff requests certain discovery prior to trial currently scheduled for August 14, 2012 (see Doc. 158), and Plaintiff's October 13, 2011 motion to compel Defendants to comply with a court order (Doc. 105) related to similar discovery. For the reasons that follow, the motions (Docs. 105 & 164) will be denied.
Plaintiff filed a Bivens-styled complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 against several USP-Lewisburg officials on November 2, 2009, as amended May 10, 2010. (Doc. 30.) Plaintiff has alleged various constitutional violations against Defendants, including excessive use of force, conditions of confinement, a strip search, and verbal harassment. On July 8, 2010, Defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. (Doc. 42.) On August 17, 2011, the court issued a memorandum and order granting in part and denying in part the motion for summary judgment filed by Defendants. (Doc. 78.) Specifically, the court granted summary judgment with respect to nine Defendants, but denied summary judgment with respect to Plaintiff's claim of excessive use of force on October 23, 2009, when Defendants Gee and Crawford escorted Plaintiff to a holding cell and placed him in that cell. (See id.)
Thereafter, Defendants filed an answer to the amended complaint on August 29, 2011. (Doc. 85.) Since that time, the parties have been engaging in discovery. While some discovery disputes have already been resolved, presently outstanding are issues relating to the discovery of certain video surveillance and documents sought by Plaintiff in anticipation of the upcoming trial. Those issues will be discussed herein.
Generally, courts afford considerable latitude in discovery in order to ensure that litigation proceeds with "the fullest possible knowledge of the issues and facts before trial." Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 501 (1947). The polestar of discovery is relevance. Relevance for discovery purposes is defined broadly. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit discovery "regarding any non-privileged 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." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). "[A]ll relevant material is discoverable unless an applicable evidentiary privilege is asserted. The presumption that such matter is discoverable, however, is defeasible." Pearson v. Miller, 211 F.3d 57, 65 (3d Cir. 2000). Rule 26(b)(2) authorizes a court to limit discovery where (i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or is obtainable 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 sought 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, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(i)-(iii). However, when there is no doubt about relevance, a court should tend toward permitting discovery. Stabilus v. Haynsworth, Baldwin, Johnson & Greaves, P.A., 144 F.R.D. 258, 265-66 (E.D. Pa. 1992).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 allows a party who has received evasive or incomplete discovery responses to seek a court order compelling additional disclosure or discovery. The party seeking the order to compel must demonstrate the relevance of the information sought. The burden then shifts to the opposing party, who must demonstrate in specific terms why a discovery request does not fall within the broad scope of discovery or is otherwise privileged or improper. Goodman v. Wagner, 553 F. Supp. 255, 258 (E.D. Pa. 1982).
As stated above, outstanding are Plaintiff's discovery requests related to certain video surveillance and documents he contends are relevant to his case. Those discovery requests are articulated in Plaintiff's motion for discovery filed on July 9, 2012. (Doc. 164.) The court will review the requested discovery and the objections Defendants raise thereto in an effort to resolve the instant discovery dispute and place the case back in a posture to be resolved.
In his first request, Plaintiff requests "All administrative remedies in reference to this case directly and indirectly, including disciplinary hearing officer report and subsequent appeals to any disciplinary action, as well as administrative remedies requesting polygraph test." (Doc. 164 at 3.)
In a notice filed July 23, 2012, Defendants respond as follows:
6. In response to Milhouse's request for "all administrative remedies in reference to this case directly and indirectly," on July 19, 2012, Senior Attorney Sullivan[ ] conducted a search of the Bureau of Prisons SENTRY computer system.
7. This search revealed that from October 23, 2009 (the date of the incident alleged in the complaint) until July 19, 2012 (the date of the search), Milhouse filed five hundred and thirty-one (531) administrative remedies with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
8. Based on the number of remedies filed, it would be unduly burdensome to research which remedies related to any issues in this action.
9. Further, it should be noted that Defendants provided Milhouse with copies of administrative remedies number 562515-F1, R1, and A1, in response to a previous discovery request. (Doc. 168 ¶¶ 6-9) (citations omitted). The administrative remedy request and appeals therefrom referred to by Defendants in this response are those filed by Plaintiff in connection with the relevant October 23, 2009 incident. (See Doc. 102 at 7.)
The court agrees with Defendants that to respond to Plaintiff's instant request would unduly burden Defendants, as the request is unreasonably excessive. For this reason and in light of the documentation already provided to Plaintiff through previous discovery requests, ...