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MacK v. Benjamin

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

December 23, 2014

MICHAEL MACK
v.
WARDEN BENJAMIN

RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL

RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (R. Doc. 39) responses to his first set of Requests for Production of Documents. Defendant filed an Opposition (R. Doc. 41), to which Plaintiff replied (R. Doc. 44). For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (R. Doc. 39) is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, an inmate of the Louisiana State Penitentiary (Angola), brings this civil rights action alleging violations of both state and federal law. (R. Doc. 1). According to the Complaint, while Plaintiff was restrained, Defendant Warden Benjamin knocked him to the ground with a punch to the face, and then repeatedly kicked and stomped on him. (R. Doc. 1 at 2-3). Plaintiff seeks recovery pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 for excessive use of force and unwarranted use of corporal punishment. (R. Doc. 1 at 5-6).

On May 15, 2014, Plaintiff propounded his First Interrogatories and Requests for Production to Defendant. (R. Doc. 41-1). On June 11, 2014, Defendant provided his responses to this first set of discovery. (R. Doc. 41-3).[1] At issue are Request for Production Nos. 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, and 14.

On October 29, 2014, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Stay in light of a 60-day suspension placed on lead counsel for Plaintiff. (R. Doc. 36).[2] On October 30, 2014, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion to Stay, and extended the discovery deadline for 30 days. (R. Doc. 38). The Court's order effectively moved the discovery deadline of October 30, 2014 set by the Court's Scheduling Order (R. Doc. 20) to December 1, 2014.

Counsel for the parties held a discovery conference on November 3, 2014 to discuss Defendant's responses. (R. Doc. 41-4). According to Defendant, plaintiff's counsel advised defense counsel of this Court's ruling in another matter on October 24, 2014, which ordered an in-camera inspection of relevant administrative remedies and a disclosure of DOC numbers of inmates. (R. Doc. 41 at 3).[3] Defense counsel informed plaintiff's counsel that Defendant would produce inmate DOC numbers, Defendant's personnel file, use-of-force reports, and ARPs filed against the Defendant if the Court's ruling (which plaintiff's counsel was to provide) supported plaintiff's counsel contention that the documents must be produced. (R. Doc. 41-4).

On November 5, 2014, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Compel. (R. Doc. 39). Plaintiff asserts that Defendant has "refused to provide documents as requested" through Requests for Production Nos. 4, 5, 8, 10, 11, and 14. (R. Doc. 39 at 1-2).

II. DISCUSSION

Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to "obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." A relevant discovery request seeks information that is "either admissible is reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." McLeod, Alexander, Powel & Apffel, P.C. v. Quarles, 894 F.2d 1482, 1484 (5th Cir. 1990) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1)). Nonetheless, a party may withhold otherwise discoverable information on the basis of privilege. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).

A. Request for Production Nos. 4, 5, and 8

These requests ask Defendant to produce his trial exhibits, documents identified in his answers to the accompanying interrogatives, and any documents referred to or relied upon to formulate responses to the accompanying interrogatories. Plaintiff claims that Defendant has not provided any responsive, non-privileged documents. (R. Doc. 42-2 at 2). Request for Production Nos. 4, 5, and 8, and Defendant's written responses, are as follows:

Request for Production No. 4:
Please produce any exhibits which you may offer at the trial of the matter.
Response to Request for Production No. 4:
The defendant objects that this Request for Production is premature as discovery is ongoing. Without waiving this objection, see all responses to Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents. The defendant will supplement in accordance with normal pre-trial procedure.
Request for Production No. 5:
Please produce each document identified in your answers to ...

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