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Eggleston v. Mitchell

United States District Court, Third Circuit

September 23, 2013

CHARLES MITCHELL, et al., Defendants.


MARTIN C. CARLSON, Magistrate Judge.

This order addresses a number of pre-trial motions that the parties have filed regarding pleading and discovery matters. Despite the parties' purported disputes over the certain of the relief sought, the motions are straightforward and in our view admit of prompt resolution. We address each seriatim below.

1. Defendants' Motion for Enlargement of Discovery Deadline.

The defendants have moved to enlarge the discover deadline until November 1, 2013, in order to afford them time to locate a third-party witness, depose him, and complete necessary discovery. (Doc. 62) The defendants also request that the Court set December 2, 2013, as the deadline for the parties to file dispositive motions and supporting briefs. The defendants represent that this extension of the discovery period and dispositive motions deadline will not unreasonably delay resolution of the action, and will not prejudice the plaintiff. We agree, and find that good cause has been shown to grant the requested relief. Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT the defendants' motion (Doc. 62) is GRANTED. The discovery period in this action is enlarged until November 1, 2013.[1] The parties shall file dispositive motions and responsive briefs on or before December 2, 2013.

2. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery.

The plaintiff has moved to compel the defendants to produce additional documents in response to certain discovery requests he propounded. (Doc. 53) Upon consideration, and as discussed further below, we do not find any basis to grant the motion, as we find either that the defendants provided the plaintiff with the information he requested, or otherwise that the information is not properly discoverable in this case.

• Request for Production No. 1 . In this request, the plaintiff asked the defendants to produce "The complete prison records of all Plaintiff [sic] cell searches (DC-704 cell searches form [sic] /only in SCI-Huntingdon." (Doc. 56, Ex. A.) The defendants note that the plaintiff has sought only documentation relating to cell searches that were related to his disciplinary custody, and these records have been provided to plaintiff. The plaintiff has not disputed the defendants' contention in this regard, and we find no basis to compel further production in response to this request.
• Request for Production No. 2 . In this request, the plaintiff requested that the defendants provide him with copies of Department of Corrections Policies 6.3.1 and 6.5.1. The defendants objected to this request on the grounds that the information sought is sensitive and should be protected from disclosure on the grounds that it relates to the security of DOC facilities, and procedures governing the searching for and handling of contraband within those facilities. Upon consideration, we do not find that the plaintiff has offered a sufficient justification for compelling the production of this information, which we agree is sensitive, and which the Department of Corrections has a legitimate interest in keeping from dissemination to inmate-litigants like the plaintiff.[2]
• Request for Production No. 4 . In this request, the plaintiff has sought production of the complete shift roster for the date of the complained-of incident, and the shift during which the incident occurred. Specifically, the plaintiff requested that the defendants "Identify and attach a copy of any and all documents showing who was on duty and relating to the incident that was reported on Feb. 2, 2012." (Doc. 56, Ex. A.) The defendants have represented that they provided the plaintiff with this very information. To the extent the plaintiff is seeking information about which staff may have been involved with the incident at issue in this case, the defendants note that such information is included in the paperwork that was related to the misconducts the plaintiff received as a result. The plaintiff has been provided with copies of this paperwork as part of discovery, and thus there is no basis to compel the defendants to produce anything further.
• Request for Production No. 7 . In this request, the plaintiff seeks to discover information regarding select portions of Security Lieutenant Johnson's security report relating to his interview with the plaintiff regarding the plaintiff's possession of contraband. To the extent that the plaintiff is seeking Lieutenant Johnson's notes, mental impressions, and analysis of the plaintiff's construction of contraband, and his effort to conceal it, the request is without merit. These mental impressions and analyses are not factual matters properly subject to discovery, but instead relate to Lieutenant Johnson's subjective impressions, opinions, and analysis. Moreover, these portions of the report relate directly to institutional security. The plaintiff has not offered a compelling basis to require the disclosure of this subjective material, and the defendant has persuasively argued that the disclosure of this information would undermine the safety and security of DOC facilities.

Accordingly, the plaintiff's motion to compel further responses to these four discovery requests (Doc. 53) is DENIED.

3. Plaintiff's Motion to Amend or Correct the Complaint.

The plaintiff has moved for leave to amend the complaint in order to correct the misidentification of an individual - but, notably, not a defendant - identified in the amended complaint. (Doc. 54) Specifically, the plaintiff seeks to amend the complaint pursuant to Rule 15 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in order to correctly identify Lieutenant Johnson as the officer who interviewed the plaintiff on or about January 31, 2012, in place of Captain Harris, whom the plaintiff initially misidentified as the officer who interviewed him. The plaintiff has apparently discovered his mistake about this individual's identity during the course of discovery, and seeks to amend his pleading simply to reflect the correct information.

The defendants have objected to the motion, but have done so by arguing that the plaintiff is improperly seeking to substitute parties pursuant to Rule 25 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, but without following any of the requirements of that rule. (Doc. 57) Upon review of the motion, it is clear that the plaintiff is not seeking substitution of parties; indeed, the proposed amendment has nothing to do with any of the defendants named in this case, but concerns only allegations involving a corrections officer who has not been named as a defendant. In this regard, the plaintiff is merely seeking to correct a factual detail contained in paragraphs 2 through 6 of the amended complaint (Doc. 11), but otherwise the plaintiff "would like to keep everything else the same...." (Doc. 54) ...

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