United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
RICHARD P. CONABOY, United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on the pro se
Plaintiff's Motion to Compel. (Doc. 54). The motion is
fully briefed and now ripe for disposition.
reasons stated below, Plaintiff s motion will be denied.
Relevant Legal Standards
who has received evasive or incomplete discovery responses
may seek a court order compelling disclosures or discovery of
the materials sought. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37 (a) (4) .
relating to the scope of discovery permitted under the
Federal Rules rest in the sound discretion of the Court.
Wisniewski v. Johns-Manville Corp., 812 F.2d 81, 90
(3d Cir. 1987). A court's decisions regarding the conduct
of discovery 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).
the scope of discovery is to be interpreted broadly, it
"is not without limits." Fassett v. Sears
Holdings Corp., 319 F.R.D. 143, 149 (M.D. Pa. 2017)
(quoting Kresefky v. Panasonic Commc'ns & Sys.
Co., 169 F.R.D. 54, 64 (D.N.J. 1996)). It is well
settled that Fed.R.Civ.P. 26 establishes a liberal discovery
policy. The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow 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). In determining "the scope of
discoverable information under Rule 26(b)(1), the Court looks
initially to the pleadings." Trask v. Olin
Corp., 298 F.R.D. 244, 263 (W.D. Pa. 2014). Courts
interpret relevancy "broadly to encompass any matter
that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other
matter[s] that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in
the case." Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders,
437 U.S. 340, 350-51, 98 S.Ct. 2380, 2398, 57 L.Ed. 253,
(1978). Thus, "all 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.3d 57, 65
(3d Cir. 2000) .
Civ. P. 34 requires that a party served with a document
request produce either the requested documents or "state
with specificity" the grounds for objecting.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(b)(4); Momah v. Albert Einstein Medical
Center, 164 F.R.D. 412, 417 (E.D. Pa.1996) . "Mere
recitation of the familiar litany that an interrogatory or a
document production request is 'overly broad, burdensome,
oppressive and irrelevant' will not suffice."
Id. (quoting Josephs v. Harris Corp., 677
F.2d 985, 992 (3d Cir.1982)). The objecting party must
demonstrate in specific terms why a particular 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). The party
attempting to withhold the release of relevant material on
the grounds of privilege must also "describe the nature
of the documents, communications, or other tangible things
not produced or disclosed . . . in a manner that . . . will
enable other parties to assess the claim." Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(5)(A)(ii). Once an objection is properly articulated,
the burden rests with the party seeking discovery to show
that a discovery request lies within the bounds of Rule 26.
Momah, 164 F.R.D. at 417.
Relevant Background and Procedural History
18, 2017, the Court granted in part and denied in part the
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) motion to
dismiss Stockton's Amended Complaint. (Doc. 48). The
surviving claims relate to events that transpired at the
State Correctional Institution at Smithfield (SCI-Smithfield)
Restricted Housing Unit (RHU) on December 20, 2013.
alleges the Defendants (Lt. Bard, Sgt. Miller, CO Willinksy,
CO Harpster, CO Wilson, CO Barndt and CO Parks) improperly
opened his RHU cell door for the explicit purpose of
assaulting him. Defendants claim Stockton's cell door
was accidently opened by CO Parks and that Stockton exited
his cell voluntarily, refused repeated direct orders to
return to his cell, and then was physically restrained and
placed in his cell by staff. Stockton ...