United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
before this Court is a motion to reopen discovery (Doc. No.
44), a motion to compel answers to interrogatories (Doc. No.
49), and a motion to determine the sufficiency of
Defendant's objections (Doc. No. 50), filed by pro
se Plaintiff, Timothy Johnson, in this civil rights
action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Defendant
has also filed a motion for an extension of the dispositive
motion deadline. (Doc. No. 51.) The motions have been fully
briefed and are now ripe for disposition.
amended complaint alleges that he was improperly designated
to a sex offender treatment program (“SOTP”),
resulting in psychological and physical injury and the denial
of parole. (Doc. No. 1.) On December 15, 2016, Defendant
filed an answer to the amended complaint. (Doc. No. 28.) By
scheduling Order dated March 28, 2017, the Court directed
that all discovery be completed within ninety (90) days and
that any dispositive motions be filed within thirty (30) days
thereafter. (Doc. No. 35.) Plaintiff propounded his first set
of interrogatories and document production requests on
Defendant on May 19, 2017, his first requests for admission
on June 1, 2017, and his second set of document production
requests on June 5, 2017. (See Doc. No. 44.)
Defendant has responded to the majority of Plaintiff's
discovery requests, with the exception of Plaintiff's
second set of document production requests, which seek
Plaintiff's entire mental health record. (Doc. No. 44.)
The discovery period having closed pursuant to this
Court's March 28, 2017 scheduling order, Plaintiff now
seeks to reopen discovery in order to compel Defendant to
respond to a number of the interrogatories and document
Motion to reopen discovery
requests that the Court reopen the discovery deadline for an
additional sixty (60) days and compel Defendant to answer
certain discovery requests propounded on him. Defendant
opposes the reopening of discovery on the basis that it will
unnecessarily delay this action since, in Defendant's
view, Plaintiff's amended complaint, premised on an
alleged right to parole, is meritless. Therefore, Defendant
asserts that Plaintiff's requested discovery is
irrelevant. (Doc. No. 46 at 1-2.)
Rule of Civil Procedure 16(b)(4) provides that a scheduling
order may be modified “for good cause and with the
judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4).
“This authority extends to requests to reopen
discovery.” In Re Chocolate Confectionary Antitrust
Litig., No. 1:08-MDL-1935, 2013 WL 3873225, at *2 (M.D.
Pa. July 25, 2013) (citing Aamco Transmissions, Inc. v.
Marino, Nos. 88-5522, 88-6197, 1991 WL 40336 (E.D. Pa.
Mar. 19, 1991)). This standard is significantly more
stringent than the standard in Rule 15(a)(2), providing that
courts should “freely give leave [to amend] when
justice so requires.” Race Tires Am., Inc. v.
Hoosier Racing Tire Corp., 614 F.3d 57, 84 (3d Cir.
2010) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2)). A movant's
“due diligence” is essential in establishing good
cause. Race Tires, 614 F.3d at 84; see also
Brown v. Am. Sintered Techs., No. 4:14-CV-0410, 2015 WL
917293 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 3, 2015) (explaining that the
“good cause standard . . . hinges on diligence of the
movant”) (citing Venetec Inter., Inc. v. Nexus
Med., LLC, 541 F.Supp.2d 612, 618 (D. Del. 2008)).
Finally, “district courts have broad discretion to
manage discovery.” Sempier v. Johnson &
Higgins, 45 F.3d 724, 734 (3d Cir. 1995).
Court is persuaded that Plaintiff has satisfied the good
cause standard. The Court initially notes that
Defendant's characterization of Plaintiff's claim as
limited to an alleged right to parole may be too narrow, as
it appears that Plaintiff also takes issue with his
designation as a sex offender and the treatment that
accompanies such a designation, such as the SOTP,
arguing that such a designation triggers an independent
liberty interest. See Renchenski v. Williams, 622
F.3d 315, 328 (3d Cir. 2010) (finding that “the
stigmatizing effects of being labeled a sex offender, when
coupled with mandatory behavioral modification therapy,
triggers an independent liberty interest”).
information Plaintiff seeks, set forth more fully below,
addresses the circumstances surrounding Plaintiff's
placement in the SOTP. Accordingly, the Court will grant
Plaintiff's motion to reopen discovery for a forty-five
(45) day period, with the dispositive motion deadline to be
stayed pending further order of this Court.
Motion to compel discovery
May 19, 2017 and June 5, 2017 Interrogatories
to Plaintiff's instant motion to compel are four
interrogatories dated May 19, 2017 and one interrogatory
dated June 5, 2017. The parties' discovery dispute is
manifold, consisting of privilege invocations and relevance
objections, as well as an overarching assertion that the
evidence sought by Plaintiff implicates institutional
security concerns. Those interrogatories and Defendant's
responses are as follows:
3. State the procedure in effect during February of 2014 for
performing a “Static 99 test.” If these
procedures are set forth in any job description or other
document, produce the documents(s)
Response: Defendant no longer possesses the “Static
99” procedures in use in 2014. By way of further
answer, this question is objectionable since it requests
confidential information which is not provided to inmates
pursuant to DOC policy. Those policies that are available to
inmates are present in the prison library, and are ...