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Moore v. Mann

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

April 18, 2017

BRIAN MOORE, Plaintiff,
v.
ANGELA MANN, et al., Defendants.

          BRANN JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM ORDER [1]

          Martin C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge

I. Factual Background

         This is a pro se prisoner civil rights action brought by a state prisoner which is currently proceeding against six correctional defendants on a single legal claim, an Eighth Amendment failure to protect claim. (Doc. 53.) This Eighth Amendment failure to protect claim stems out of remarks that Moore alleges the correctional officers made in the presence of others in the Fall of 2011, identifying Moore as both a snitch and a pedophile, remarks which Moore alleges placed him at grave risk of physical harm.

         There is a pending motion to compel discovery filed in this case by Moore. (Doc. 65.) This motion, and further discovery, had been deferred for a period of time while the court addressed other legal issues. However, with a series of rulings by the district court on other matters in April of 2017, this motion is now ripe for resolution, and on April 14, 2017, this matter was referred to the undersigned for our consideration.

         We have now reviewed the parties' pleadings with respect to these discovery issues. While Moore's motion to compel casts this discovery dispute as a wholesale failure by the defendants to provide any discovery, a review of the defendants' discovery responses shows that Moore's assertion is incorrect. In fact, the defendants have provided responses to many of Moore's discovery demands, albeit in a fashion which reveals very little factual support for Moore's claims. Thus, the defendants have responded to all of Moore's interrogatories and requests for production of documents, providing answers to many of these questions, lodging objections to some requests, and submitting both answers and objections to the remaining requests. While the defendants declined to address Moore's propounded deposition on written questions they did so for sound reasons, since this propounded discovery did not comply with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         In a number of instances, the defendants objected to some of Moore's specific discovery demands, which sought personal, sexual information, information of a limitless scope relating to the identities of third parties and other inmates, data concerning other, unrelated inmate complaints against staff, social media histories and passwords used by prison staff, or demanded documents and information which was entirely unrelated to the issues in this case. Many of these discovery requests were argumentative in tone, impermissibly broad in scope, and sought to delve into areas that were both highly personal and irrelevant. However, in most instances, even as the defendants objected to these matters, they provided responses, albeit responses which largely contradicted and undermined Moore's claims of staff misconduct.

         Having conducted this review for the reasons set forth below, with the narrow exception noted below, the motion to compel will be DENIED.

         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 to compel discovery, and provides that:

(a) Motion for an Order Compelling Disclosure or Discovery
(1) In General. On notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery. . . .

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

         The scope of what type of discovery may be compelled under Rule 37 is defined, in turn, by Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Fed. ...


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