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Smith v. Wilson

United States District Court, Third Circuit

December 20, 2013

I-KIEM SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
MICK WILSON, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM ORDER

MARTIN C. CARLSON, Magistrate Judge.

I. Introduction

This case is a civil rights action brought by a state prisoner, I-Kiem Smith, alleging that the defendant Nick Wilson, a correctional officer, retaliated against Smith by denying him meals and filing false misconduct reports against Smith. This matter now comes before the Court for consideration of a motion to compel discovery filed by Smith. (Docs. 20 and 21) This motion seeks disclosure of various prison policies and investigative reports, and alleges that these discovery requests have been ignored.

The defendants have responded to this motion, denying that they have ignored the plaintiff's discovery requests. Instead, the defendants have shown that they have responded to some requests, while objecting to other requests on the grounds that the requests either seek sensitive investigative records or seek to compel the defendants to produce items which do not presently exist. (Doc. 25)

For the reasons set forth below, this motion will be denied without prejudice to the renewal of a more narrowly targeted discovery motion, with a greater supporting showing of relevance.

II. Discussion

Several basic guiding principles inform our resolution of the instant discovery dispute. At the outset, Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions for sanctions, and provides that:

(c) Failure to Disclose, to Supplement an Earlier Response, or to Admit.
(1) Failure to Disclose or Supplement. If a party fails to provide information or identify a witness as required by Rule 26(a) or (e), the party is not allowed to use that information or witness to supply evidence on a motion, at a hearing, or at a trial, unless the failure was substantially justified or is harmless. In addition to or instead of this sanction, the court, on motion and after giving an opportunity to be heard:
(A) may order payment of the reasonable expenses, including attorney's fees, caused by the failure;
(B) may inform the jury of the party's failure; and
(C) may impose other appropriate sanctions....

Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(c).

The scope of what type of discovery may be compelled under Rule 37, and give rise to sanctions, is defined, in turn, by Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of ...


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