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Pinson v. United States

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

August 23, 2019

JEREMY PINSON, Plaintiff
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et ai, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM

          Robert D. Mariani Judge

         Plaintiff Jeremy Pinson ("Plaintiff'), a federal inmate who is currently housed at the United States Penitentiary in Tucson, Arizona, initiated this action pursuant to Bivens, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and the Federal Tort Claims Act ("FTCA"). The matter is proceeding via a second amended complaint. (Doc. 51). Named as Defendants are Warden L. Oddo, Warden T. Cozza-Rhodes, Chief of the Designation and Sentence Computation Center ("DSCC") J. Santana, Special Investigative Services ("SIS") Lieutenant S. Valencik, Special Investigative Agent ("SIA") C. Heath, the Bureau of Prisons ("BOP"), and the United States of America. (Id.).

         Presently pending before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to compel discovery. (Doc. 73). For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny the motion.

         I. Standard of Review

         A party 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).

         Generally, 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).

         II. Discussion

         In the instant motion, Plaintiff requests that the Court: (1) compel Defendants to respond to his second set of discovery requests; and, (2) compel Defendants to further respond to his original discovery requests. (Doc. 74, pp. 1-3).

         A. Second Set of Discovery Requests

         On April 1, 2019, the Court ordered that "[d]iscovery on the issues of exhaustion of administrative remedies and personal jurisdiction shall be completed on or before April 29, 2019." (Doc. 71, ¶ 2). Plaintiff states that on April 30, 2019, past the discovery deadline, he mailed a second set of discovery requests to Defendants. (Doc. 74, pp. 1, 4). On May 15, 2019, Defendants responded and objected to the discovery requests as untimely. (Id. at p.7).

         It is clear that Plaintiffs second set of discovery requests, mailed on April 30, 2019, were untimely under the Court's Order. The April 1, 2019 Order clearly states that discovery "shall be completed on or before April 29, 2019." (Doc. 71, ¶ 2). Plaintiff appears to concede his untimeliness, explaining that he was placed on suicide watch on April 20, and had no access to writing instruments. (Doc. 74, p. 1). In response, Defendants argue that Plaintiff could have mailed the discovery requests at any time prior to April 20, and, furthermore, their responses were due after the Scheduling Order's deadline. (Doc. 81, pp. 5-6).

         A scheduling order "may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent." FED. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4). The Court also has authority under Rules 33(b)(2) and 34(b)(2)(A) to shorten the time for responses to interrogatories and requests for production of documents. See FED. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(2), 34(b)(2)(A). Courts have applied the general Rule 16 good cause standard when considering requests to alter discovery deadlines. Good cause under Rule 16(b) focuses on the diligence of the party seeking the modification of the scheduling order. See FED. R. Civ. P. 16, Advisory Committee Note (1983) ("the court may modify the schedule on a showing of good cause if it cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension").

         Here, the Court finds that Plaintiff has not made this showing. Plaintiff timely served his original discovery requests. Plaintiff could have, but did not, serve his additional discovery requests in time to be completed prior to the deadline set by the Court. Because Plaintiffs second set of discovery ...


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