United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
KAROLINE MEHALCHICK, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is a motion for a protective order filed by
Defendants Morrow, Mills, and Staley. (Doc. 190). The
Defendants previously moved for entry of a protective order
in response to “voluminous” discovery requests
received from pro se Plaintiff Eugene Douglas
Manning, which was granted on October 17, 2016. (Doc. 167;
Doc. 173). In response, Manning requested nine court-issued
subpoenas to obtain medical records from third-party medical
providers, clarification on the admissibility of already
obtained medical records, and six subpoenas intended for
discovery to be served upon the Defendants and related third
parties. (Doc. 168). The Court granted the subpoenas for
third party medical providers but denied issuance of
subpoenas intended for the Defendants and Franklin County
prison. (Doc. 174; Doc. 175).
may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that
is relevant to any party's claim or defense . . . .
Information within this scope of discovery need not be
admissible in evidence to be discoverable.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). “Rule 26(c) authorizes a court
to issue a protective order where justice so requires and
upon good cause shown. The party seeking a protective order
bears the burden of demonstrating the ‘good cause'
required to support such an order.” Trans Pacific
Ins. Co. v. Trans-Pacific Ins. Co., 136 F.R.D. 385, 391
(E.D. Pa. 1991). “Broad allegations of harm,
unsubstantiated by specific examples or articulated
reasoning, do not satisfy the Rule 26(c) test.”
Cipollone v. Liggett Grp., Inc., 785 F.2d 1108, 1121
(3d Cir. 1986). The decision of whether or not to grant a
protective order pursuant to Rule 26(c) rests in the sound
discretion of the trial court. Glenmede Trust Co. v.
Thompson, 56 F.3d 476, 483 (3d Cir. 1995).
November 9, 2016, Manning moved to serve written discovery on
the Defendants in order to obtain the legal names of the
remaining Defendants. (Doc. 180). The Court granted his
motion and ordered the Defendants to provide him with their
legal names. (Doc. 187). In their instant motion, the
Defendants assert that following compliance with this Order,
Manning resubmitted discovery requests previously answered in
a manner Manning deemed inadequate. (Doc. 191). Additionally,
they stated that Manning served a subpoena on the Franklin
County jail, seeking information already provided and various
other requests. (Doc. 191-12).
Court's Order granting Manning's motion to serve
written discovery related ONLY to the legal names of the
Defendants and did NOT authorize the resubmission of
previously offered discovery requests. As stated in the
October 17, 2016 entry of a protective order, Manning must
seek leave of court before service of discovery on the
Defendants. (Doc. 173). While Manning did file a motion to
serve written discovery, the Court's Order granting
Manning's motion was not an open invitation to refile old
discovery requests, but provided only for submission of
discovery tailored to obtaining the names of the Defendants
which was the entirety of Manning's supporting argument.
October 21, 2016 Memorandum explaining the denial of
Manning's motion for subpoenas, the Court explained that
“to the extent [Manning] believes Defendants provided
evasive discovery answers, he must in good faith attempt to
resolve these issues without Court intervention, and, only
upon a showing thereof, may file a motion to compel.”
(Doc. 174, a 5-6). This remains the case. The Court has no
reason to doubt Manning's efforts to resolve the
discovery dispute prior to seeking Court intervention.
However, at no point has he filed a motion to compel or a
motion with similar effect. The prior orders of the Court did
not authorize resending hundreds of pages of discovery
requests already answered, even if Manning is dissatisfied
with the response provided, as a means of obtaining
information he seeks.
specific instances of evasive answers identified by Manning
related exclusively to the legal names of the Defendants.
(Doc. 180, at 13-14, 16). Nowhere in Manning's motion to
serve written discovery is a statement notifying the Court of
his desire to file a request for admissions, request for
production of documents, or interrogatories deviating from
that specific deficiency. Accordingly, the Court finds the
service of further written discovery outside of the scope
provided to be improper, and a protective order warranted.
Thus, the Defendants' motion is GRANTED. The Defendants
are not obligated to respond to the discovery requests
submitted outside the scope of this Court's prior Order
on the matter. To the extent Manning seeks to serve
additional discovery, he MUST seek Court leave, which
includes providing the discovery request to be sent for
review so as to avoid further confusion, litigation, and
burden on both parties.
also request that this Court declare future subpoenas issued
to the Defendants, the Franklin County jail and/or Franklin
County and/or its employees, agents or servants,
“invalid” and without requiring response. (Doc.
195, at 7). This comes as a result of a draft subpoena
provided by Manning (Doc. 190-12), which upon briefing has
been identified as unserved. (Doc. 195, at 7). Originally,
the Defendants requested that the Court quash Manning's
subpoena for “blatant disregard of this Court's
Order.” (Doc. 190, at 5-6). While a moot point at this
juncture, in order to reduce future litigation, the Court
reiterates the requirements of Rule 45.
Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “the
court for the district where compliance [with a subpoena] is
required must quash or modify a subpoena” upon
presentation of any one of four grounds. Fed.R.Civ.P.
45(d)(3). Factual assertions raised in briefings identify two
of these as relevant. The court must quash or modify a
subpoena that requires disclosure of “privileged or
other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies;
or, subjects a person to undue burden.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
45(d)(3)(iii)-(iv). However, it is the non-party recipient
that is entitled to raise these objections, not the
Defendants. See Behne v. Halstead, No.
1:13-CV-0056, 2014 WL 4672486, at *3 (M.D. Pa. Sep. 18, 2014)
(citing Thomas v. Marina Assocs., 202 F.R.D. 433,
434-35 (E.D. Pa. 2001)). As noted by the Defendants in their
brief in support, should Manning issue a subpoena like the
one in question, notice must be provided to the opposing
party prior to service of the subpoena in order to
provide notice and time to object. SeeFed. R. Civ.
P. 45(a)(4); see generally CedarCrestone, Inc.,
v. Affiliated Computer Serv's., LLC., No.
1:14-MC-0298, 2014 WL 3055355, at *6 (M.D. Pa. July 3, 2014).
Because of the hypothetical nature of the Defendants'
concerns, the Court declines to declare all subpoenas
invalid. All parties are to keep in mind the preceding
procedural restrictions regarding issuance of subpoenas.
the Defendants assert Manning has attempted to use discovery
to obtain copies of the deposition transcripts at no cost.
(Doc. 190, at 5). Manning denies this attempt to circumvent
the rules of discovery, and states that he has offered to pay
both the court reporter and Defendants the costs associated
with providing the transcripts. (Doc. 194, at 9-10). Manning
has helpfully attached letters he sent to both regarding the
transcripts. (Doc. 194, at 66-72). Manning plainly has
offered to pay the court reporter, however a review of his
letter to the Defendants does not contain similar language.
The Defendants are correct that the rules of discovery should
not be used to shift the costs of production to one party.
The Court at this time advises that the Defendants are not
obligated to provide the deposition transcripts at no cost.