United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
PARIS L. JAMES, Plaintiff,
DAVID VARANO, et al., Defendants
before the Court is Plaintiff Paris James' motion to
compel discovery. (Doc. No. 80.) For the reasons set forth
below, the motion will be granted in part and denied in part.
an inmate at the State Correctional Institution at Coal
Township, Pennsylvania (“SCI-Coal Township”),
initiated this pro se civil rights action pursuant
to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against 16 named individual
defendants and 14 “John and Jane Doe” defendants,
all employees of the Department of Corrections at SCI-Coal
complaint, Plaintiff alleges that two defendants, Physician
Assistants Davis and Daya, failed to provide him with
adequate medical care and treatment for breathing
difficulties, and that they conspired with other Defendants
to deprive Restricted Housing Unit (“RHU”)
inmates of proper intake examinations or access to health
care, and intentionally refused medical care to reduce
transportation costs from the RHU. (Doc. No. 28.) Plaintiff
claims violations of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to
the United States Constitution. (Id.) Subsequently,
the Court dismissed Plaintiff's conspiracy claims, equal
protection claims, and condition of confinement claims, but
permitted the Eighth Amendment claims of deliberate
indifference to a serious medical need to proceed against
Defendants Davis and Daya. (Doc. No. 56.)
with his motion to compel, Plaintiff has filed a supporting
brief (Doc. No. 81), a declaration (Doc. No. 82), and
exhibits (Doc. No. 83), which include the discovery documents
propounded upon Defendants. Defendants have filed a brief in
opposition together with evidentiary materials detailing
their responses to Plaintiff's discovery requests. (Doc.
No. 84). Having been fully briefed, this discovery matter is
now ripe for disposition.
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), as amended, defines the
scope of discovery as follows:
(1) Scope in General.
Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of
discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery
regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any
party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of
the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake
in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties'
relative access to relevant information, the parties'
resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the
issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed
discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within
this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “The 2015 amendment to Rule
26 reinforces the shared obligation of the parties, counsel,
and the court to consider the proportionality of all
discovery and consider it in resolving discovery
disputes.” Employers Ins. Co. of Wausau v. Daybreak
Express, Inc., No. 2:16-CV-4269-JLL-SCM, 2017 WL
2443064, at *2 (D.N.J. June 5, 2017). Thus, under the present
amendment, to be deemed discoverable, the matter sought to be
discovered must be: (1) relevant to the party's claim or
defense; (2) non privileged; and (3) proportional to the
needs of the case. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).
matter is “relevant ‘if it has any tendency to
make a fact more or less probable that it would be without
the evidence' and ‘the fact is of consequence in
determining the action.'” In re Suboxone
(Buprenorphine Hydrochloride & Naloxone) Antitrust
Litig., No. 13-MD-2445, 2016 WL 3519618, at *3 (E.D. Pa.
June 28, 2016) (quoting Fed.R.Evid. 401). “This concept
of relevance is tempered . . . by principles of
proportionality, ” which include: (1) the importance of
the issues at stake in the action, (2) the amount in
controversy, (3) the parties' relative access to relevant
information, (4) the parties' resources, (5) the
importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, (6) and
whether the burden of expense of the proposed discovery
outweighs its likely benefit. Fassett v. Sears Holdings
Corp., No. 4:15-CV-00941, 2017 WL 386646, at *3 (M.D.
Pa. Jan. 27, 2017) (citation omitted); Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).
courts employ a burden-shifting analysis to resolve discovery
disputes. Employers Ins. Co. of Wausau v. Daybreak
Express, Inc., No. 2:16-CV-4269-JLL-SCM, 2017 WL
2443064, at *2 (D.N.J. June 5, 2017). Specifically, a party
seeking to compel discovery under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 37 bears an initial burden of demonstrating that
“the information sought is relevant to the subject
matter of the action.” Id. (citation omitted).
The burden then shifts to the objecting party to show, in
specific terms, why the discovery request is improper.
Hicks v. Big Bros./Big Sisters of Am., 168 F.R.D.
528, 529 (E.D. Pa. 1996).
relating to the scope of discovery under Rule 26, and the
extent to which discovery may be compelled, are matters
committed to the sound discretion of the court, and will be
disturbed only upon a showing of an abuse of discretion.
Marroquin- Manriquez v. I.N.S., 699 F.2d 129, 134
(3d Cir. 1983); Wisniewski v. Johns-Manville Corp.,
812 F.2d 81, 90 (3d Cir. 1987).
by the above standards, the Court turns to Plaintiff's
motion to compel.
Motion to Compel
supporting brief, Plaintiff requests that Defendants be
compelled to answer completely Plaintiff's first set of
interrogatories and requests for admission propounded upon
Defendant Davis, and Plaintiff's first and second set of
interrogatories and Plaintiff's requests for admission
propounded upon Defendant Daya.
First Set of Interrogatories
first set of interrogatories submitted to both Defendants
includes a total number of 25 interrogatories. While
Plaintiff requests full and complete responses to every
single interrogatory in this set, the arguments he raises in
his motion to compel primarily concern the first two
interrogatories. Those two interrogatories, and Defendants
respective and identical answers, are as follows:
State and identify the standard policy and procedures for
examination of inmates upon reception at a new Facility after
transfer, this includes but is ...