United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
D. MARIANI UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before the Court in this civil rights action is a motion to
compel discovery filed by Plaintiff Calvin Rouse
("Rouse"), a former inmate housed at the Retreat
State Correctional Institution, in Hunlock Creek,
Pennsylvania, ("SCI-Retreat"). (Doc. 59). For
the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny the motion.
Standard of Review
who has received evasive or incomplete discovery responses
may seek a court order compelling disclosure or discovery of
the materials sought. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a). The
moving party must demonstrate the relevance of the
information sought to a particular claim or defense. The
burden then shifts to the opposing party, who must
demonstrate in specific terms why a discovery request does
not fall within the broad scope of discovery or is otherwise
privileged or improper. Goodman v. Wagner, 553
F.Supp. 255, 258 (E.D. Pa. 1982).
courts afford considerable latitude in discovery in order to
ensure that litigation proceeds with "the fullest
possible knowledge of the issues and facts before
trial." Hickman v. Taylor, 349 U.S. 495, 501
(1947). The procedural rule defining the scope and limits of
discovery provides that "[p]arties 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
be discoverable." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). "[A]ll
relevant material is discoverable unless an applicable
evidentiary privilege is asserted. The presumption that such
matter is discoverable, however, is defeasible."
Pearson v. Miller, 211 F.2d 57, 65 (3d Cir. 2000).
Furthermore, the court may limit discovery where; "(i)
the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or
duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that
is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii)
the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to
obtain the information by discovery in the action; or (iii)
the proposed discovery is outside the scope permitted by Rule
26(b)(1)." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(c).
instant motion to compel discovery, Rouse requests the
following: (1) the property room log book entry from January
3, 2013; (2) a log of inmates who complained about their
property not being shipped with them on January 10, 2013;
and, (3) a log of inmate grievances against Defendants with
regard to missing property. (Doc. 59). The Court will address
each request seriatim,
requests the property room log book entry from January 3,
2013 to show that Defendants were not properly following
procedure in shipping inmates' property. In response to
this request, Defendants note that Rouse was transferred from
SCI-Retreat to SCI-Graterford on January 10, 2013. Thus, they
assert that the property room log book entry for January 3,
2013 is irrelevant to the instant action.
review of the exhibits attached to Defendants' brief in
opposition to the motion to compel demonstrates that they
have provided Rouse with the relevant log book entry for the
date of his transfer. (Doc. 62-1, p. 15). The Court finds
that Defendants have produced the relevant property room log
book entry including the date of Rouse's transfer (i.e.
January 10, 2013), and the request for the property room log
book entry for January 3, 2013 is irrelevant to Rouse's
claims. Consequently, this request will be denied.
next requests the log of inmates who complained about their
property not being shipped with them on January 10, 2013.
(Doc. 59). Defendants maintain that no such log exists and
they do not have log dedicated to listing names of inmates
who complain about the shipment of their property. (Doc. 62,
pp. 3-4). The Court accepts Defendants' representation
that no such document exists.
Rouse requests specific information regarding fellow inmate
Shakir. (Doc. 59, p. 2). Rouse states that inmate Shakir was
transferred from SCI-Retreat at the same time as Rouse.
(Id.). He requests the log book indicating that
Shakir's property was shipped, and the date Shakir signed
for the return of his property. (Id.). The Court
notes that liability under § 1983 is personal in nature,
see Sutton v. Rasheed, 323 F.3d 236, 249 (3d Cir.
2003), and the only documents relevant to the claims asserted
in this action are those documents related to complaints made
by Rouse against the Defendants. Rouse has not indicated how
the records are relevant to his claims as inmate Shakir is
not a party to this action. Moreover, inmates are prohibited
from possessing documents that pertain to fellow inmates.
See (Doc. 62-1, p. 11). The Department of
Corrections is prohibited by DC-ADM 003 from releasing
inmate information to other inmates. See Sloan v.
Murray, 2013 WL 5551162 (M.D. Pa. 2013) (denying
plaintiff's motion to compel grievance responses related
to other inmates, and noting that DOC Policy DC-ADM 003
prohibits an inmate from receiving information about another
inmate). In addition, beyond the obvious privacy concerns
surrounding releasing information about other inmates, the
release of complaints or grievances filed by other inmates
may subject those inmates to harassment or retaliation. Rouse
has failed to sustain his burden of proving the relevance of
this requested information and he is prohibited by DC-ADM 003
from obtaining a complaint or grievance related to another
inmate. Therefore, the Court will deny this request.