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Thurman Mearin v. Louis Folino

September 24, 2012

THURMAN MEARIN, PLAINTIFF,
v.
LOUIS FOLINO, SUPERINTENDENT, ROBERT B. MACINTYRE, CHIEF HEARING EXAMINER, F. NUNEX, HEARING EXAMINER, SUSAN COWAN, PROGRAM REVIEW COMMITTEE, ROBERT DIETZ, PROGRAM REVIEW COMMITTEE, MIKE IVAN, PROGRAM REVIEW COMMITTEE, MAJOT LORINDA WINFILED, LT. E. GREGO, LT. ROBERT L. KENNEDY, LT. S.P. DURCO, WALLACE DITTSWORTH, FOOD MANAGER, CARLA SWARTZ, UNIT MANAGER, PAUL PALYA, UNIT MANAGER, DORINDA VARNER, CHIEF GRIEVANCE OFFICER, M. DIALESANDOR, PROGRAM REVIEW COMMITTEE, DR. YANAKS, PSYCHOLOGIST, DAN DAVIS, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT, SGT. YOUNKIN, R.H.U., COL. WILCHER, R.H.U., COL. MARTAIN, R.H.U., COL. GIFFORD, R.H.U., COL. MOORE, COL. HARKLEROAD, LT. D. MITCHELL, COL. W. SHAWLEY. R.H.U., COL. KNIGHT, R.H.U., COL. BARCHIESI, R.H.U., COL. A. SHAWLEY, R.H.U, RE: ECF NOS. 68, 70 PETE VIDONISH, UNIT MANAGER, PROGRAM REVIEW COM. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly

MEMORANDUM ORDER

KELLY, Magistrate Judge

Plaintiff, Thurman Mearin ("Plaintiff"), is a state prisoner in the custody of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC"), and is currently incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Greene ("SCI Greene"). Plaintiff has filed this civil rights suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants have engaged in a campaign of harassment and retaliation against him for filing various grievances and lawsuits against Defendant Louis S. Folino ("Folino"), and other DOC staff members. ECF No. 23. Specifically, Plaintiff claims that Defendants have repeatedly filed false misconducts against him; deprived him of his right to call witnesses at the misconduct hearings; refused to review videotapes relevant to the misconducts; confiscated and/or destroyed his legal papers; denied him single cell status; falsified his medical records; and deprived him of food in violation of his rights provided by the First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Id.

Presently before the Court is a Motion to Compel Discovery that was submitted by Plaintiff on August 20, 2012, ECF No. 68, and a Supplemental Motion to Compel Discovery submitted by Plaintiff on September 4, 2012, ECF No. 70. For the reasons that follow, both Motions will be denied.*fn1

I. LEGAL STANDARD

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). Discovery may properly be limited 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). When there is no doubt about relevance, however, 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." Option One Mortgage Corp. v. Fitzgerald, 2009 WL 648986 at *2 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 11, 2009).

II. DISCUSSION

A. First Request for Interrogatories

1. Interrogatory No. 1A

Plaintiff initially takes issue with Defendants' response to Interrogatory No. 1A which revolves around a memorandum written to him by Defendant Folino on December 4, 2006, in which Folino addresses Plaintiff's appeal of his transfer to Administrative Custody. ECF No. 68-4, pp. 1-2; ECF No. 4-37. Folino reported in the memorandum that he would not alter the judgment of the Program Review Committee, which determined that Plaintiff was properly placed in Administrative Custody, given Plaintiff's "history of adjustment difficulties while incarcerated." ECF No. 4-37.

In Interrogatory No. 1A, Plaintiff seeks a copy of the transfer petition, including the names of the staff members who authored it. ECF No. 68, ¶¶ 1, 2; ECF No. 68-4, pp. 1-2. Defendants objected to the request stating that the transfer petition is privileged and confidential. ECF No. 68-5, ¶ 1.

Defendants presently stand by their objection and, in support thereof, have offered the Declaration of Craig Haywood ("Haywood"), the Security Captain at SCI Green, in which he states that transfer petitions, amongst other things, contain privileged, confidential, and sensitive information, much of which is intentionally not disclosed to the subject inmate as it could pose a risk to the security of the institution and the safety of staff and inmates. ECF No. 74-1, ΒΆ 4. Haywood also declares that the information contained in the transfer petitions could permit an inmate to manipulate his programming and that providing the inmate with the names of those authoring the ...


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