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Rosa-Diaz v. Harry

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 18, 2019

GABRIEL ROSA-DIAZ, Plaintiff,
v.
LAUREL HARRY, et al., Defendants.

          Rambo Judge

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Martin C. Carlson United States Magistrate Judge

         I. Statement of Facts and of the Case

         This is a pro se state prisoner civil rights lawsuit. One of the surviving claims in this case is an Eighth Amendment conditions of confinement claim brought by Rosa-Diaz who alleges that in March and April of 2017, while he was a state prisoner housed at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Camp Hill, he was housed in a cell where “there were human feces inside the air conditioner and exhaust ventilations [in his new cell]; . . . the plumbing for the hot water did not work and plaintiff did not had [sic] access to hot water; . . . the exhaust air ventilation was broken and inoperative and; . . . the cell smelled of urine and feces.” (Doc. 12-1, ¶ 36.)

         With the issues in this litigation framed in this fashion, Rosa-Diaz has filed a second motion to compel production of certain information from the defendants. (Doc. 77.) In this motion, Rosa-Diaz follows up on prior requests for production of videos or documents relating to a June 2017 incident involving another inmate, Eric Maple, who allegedly refused at that time to enter the cell formerly occupied by Rosa-Diaz because of the lingering presence of human waste in the cell.

         We previously found on December 4, 2018, that this information relating to other complaints about the conditions in this cell, made shortly after Rosa-Diaz vacated the cell, was potentially relevant to the issues raised in this lawsuit. Accordingly, we entered an order directing the defendants to notify Rosa-Diaz if any prison records or videos reveal that inmate Eric Maple complained about the condition of the cell formerly occupied by Rosa-Diaz shortly after Rosa-Diaz vacated that cell in the spring and summer of 2017. (Doc. 49.) Inmate Maple was later deposed and apparently corroborated the fact that he refused to enter the cell vacated by Rosa-Diaz because it was fouled by human waste. Thus, Maple has provided relevant information that corroborated Rosa-Diaz’s claims regarding the condition of this cell.

         It was against this backdrop that Rosa-Diaz filed in instant motion to compel, seeking discovery of prison videos or grievances involving inmate Maple which would further corroborate Maple’s statements concerning his complaints regarding the condition of this cell in June of 2017. (Doc. 77.) The defendants have responded to this motion by arguing that Maple’s testimony confirming his complaints regarding the condition of the cell fulfilled their discovery obligations under our December 2018 order. While we understand the defendants’ potential confusion in this regard, for the reasons set forth below we believe that Rosa-Diaz is entitled to the additional information he seeks. Therefore, this motion to compel will be granted.

         II. Discussion

         Several basic guiding principles inform our resolution of the instant discovery dispute. At the outset, Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs motions to compel discovery, and provides that:

(a) Motion for an Order Compelling Disclosure or Discovery
(1) In General. On notice to other parties and all affected persons, a party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery. . . .

Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a).

         The general scope of discovery is defined by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) in the following terms:

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 ...

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