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Manley v. Zimmer

United States District Court, D. Nevada

September 10, 2014

ALAN ZIMMER, et al., Defendants.


ROBERT C. JONES, District Judge.

Plaintiff filed four motions (ECF Nos. 223, 240, 262, 276) asking the Court to reconsider various discovery rulings made by the magistrate judge. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motions are DENIED.


At all times relevant to Plaintiff's complaint, he was an inmate being held by the Nevada Department of Corrections ("NDOC") and housed at the Ely State Prison. On July 22, 2011, Plaintiff filed suit in White Pine County, Nevada claiming that Defendants were responsible for failing to protect Plaintiff and for using excessive force on Plaintiff as he was transferred to a different cell following a fight with another inmate. (Compl. 1, ECF No. 1 Ex. 1). Defendants then removed the case to this Court. (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1). The parties have experienced a number of discovery disputes over which the magistrate judge has ruled. Specifically at issue here are the magistrate judge's orders dated February 20, 2014 ("February Order"), April 17, 2014 ("April Order"), June 13, 2014 ("June Order"), and August 4, 2014 ("August Order").

A. February Order

The February Order dealt with Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (ECF No. 161) and his Motion to Determine the Sufficiency of the Defendants' Answer (ECF No. 163). The Motion to Compel asserted that Defendants should be ordered by the Court to provide information and documentation regarding their insurance policies, sources of income, financial debt, and assets. (Pl.'s Mot. to Compel 5-7, ECF No. 161). Plaintiff argued that Defendants' financial information was relevant as well as discoverable under Nev. Rev. Stat. 41.0349. (Reply to Defs.'s Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. to Compel 3-4, ECF No. 188). The magistrate denied Plaintiff's Motion as to each of these requests and also found Nev. Rev. Stat. 41.0349 to be inapplicable to the parties' dispute. (Feb. 20, 2014 Mins. of Proceedings 2, ECF No. 219). The magistrate judge stated that if Plaintiff successfully demonstrated prima facie evidence of a punitive damage claim, he would revisit the ruling regarding Defendants' assets. ( Id. ).

The magistrate judge next considered interrogatories that were served on Defendant Baker. The first interrogatory sought all instances in which Defendants had used "force" since January 2003 (Pl.'s Mot. to Compel 8). The magistrate judge found this request to be unduly burdensome because it would require a review of close to 1000 incident reports. (Feb. 20, 2014 Mins. of Proceedings 3). The magistrate judge also ruled that the responses were duplicative of what had previously been requested or irrelevant. ( Id. at 3). Other interrogatories sought information regarding medical documents, medical insurance policies, and documents maintained by the Inspector General. (Pl.'s Mot. to Compel 10). In these instances, the magistrate judge ruled that Plaintiff either had equal access to the documents through appropriate NDOC procedures or that Defendant Baker did not have authorization to access the records. (Feb. 20, 2014 Mins. of Proceedings 3-4). Finally, the magistrate judge denied Plaintiff's request that Defendants Baker and McDaniel make certain admissions as to Plaintiff's medical records. ( Id. at 5). The magistrate judge determined that even if these defendants had access to the records, it would be inappropriate to require them to interpret the records. ( Id. ). Thus, the Defendants were not required to supplement their responses to Plaintiff's previous requests for admission. ( Id. ).

B. April Order

The April Order dealt in part with whether Plaintiff's Motion for Order Requiring Defendants to Accept and Answer Discovery Requests (ECF No. 170) should be granted. The issue was whether the magistrate judge should compel Defendants to respond to Plaintiff's seventh and eighth sets of Requests for the Production of Documents. (Apr. 17, 2014 Order 7, ECF No. 236). The seventh set was given to Defendants' counsel on November 15, 2013 and the eighth set was mailed on November 20, 2013 ( Id. ). Plaintiff argued that since his requests were made prior to the November 27, 2013 discovery cut-off deadline, Defendants were compelled to answer by that deadline. (Pl.'s Mot. for Order Requiring Defs. to Accept and Answer Disc. Reqs. 3). The magistrate judge pointed out that the rule of the District is that written discovery requests must be made thirty days prior to the discovery deadline so that the opposing party has sufficient time to respond. (Apr. 17, 2014 Order 8). Nevertheless, the magistrate judge considered the totality of the circumstances surrounding the requests before making his ruling.

The magistrate judge determined that certain requests pertaining to depositions taken during a lawsuit against Defendant McDaniel in 2000, an interoffice memorandum relating to NDOC administration regulations, and the make and model of the prison's audio visual cameras were all of "questionable relevance." ( Id. at 11-12). The magistrate judge also noted that if discovery were allowed to proceed with these additional sets, it would delay the Court from proceeding with dispositive motions. ( Id. at 12). By weighing the relevancy and inevitable delay with the burden that compelling additional answers would place on Defendants, and considering the extensive discovery that had already taken place, the magistrate judge ruled in his discretion that precluding the discovery sought in the seventh and eighth sets "would not unduly restrict the truth-seeking function imposed on this court." ( Id. ).

C. June Order

In his June Order, the magistrate judge granted Defendants' motion for an extension of time to file a reply to Plaintiff's opposition to Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment. (Jun. 13, 2014 Mins. of Proceedings 2, ECF No. 261). The Court extended Defendants deadline to July 15, 2014 due to the extensive nature of Plaintiff's opposition and cross motion. ( Id. )

D. August Order

The August Order dealt with two motions made by Plaintiff, a Motion to Hold Defendants' Counsel in Contempt (ECF No. 251) and a Motion for Court Order Transcribing the May 16, 2014 Court Hearing (ECF No. 263). In the April Order, the magistrate judge had ordered Defendants to supplement certain responses made to Plaintiff's discovery requests. (Apr. 17, 2014 Order at 26-27). The magistrate judge directed Defendants to produce the 2009 NDOC policies and procedures relevant to Plaintiff's complaint and the training manual used to instruct officers on proper cell extraction, as well as records of an interview between Defendant Thompson and the inmate with whom Plaintiff fought on the day of the incident. ( Id. at 27). These supplemental responses were due by May 2, 2014. ( Id. ). At a subsequent hearing held on May 16, 2014, the magistrate judge found that Defendants had complied with the April 17th order except that the NDOC training manual had not yet been produced. (May 16, 2014 Mins. of Proceedings 3-4, ECF No. 249). Defendants stated that they partially complied by making relevant portions of the policies and procedures available for Plaintiff's review in the warden's office, but that the training manual had just recently been retrieved from archives and Defendants were currently identifying which policies were actually ...

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