United States District Court, D. Nevada
C. JONES United States District Judge.
a prisoner civil rights case. Now pending before the Court is
an objection to the Magistrate Judge's order granting a
stay of discovery pending determination of Defendants'
motion for summary judgment. (ECF No. 76.) For the reasons
given herein, the Court overrules the objection.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Richard Deeds is a prisoner in custody of the Nevada
Department of Corrections (“NDOC”) at Warm
Springs Correctional Center (“WSCC”). On November
9, 2015, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit against ten defendants,
alleging various constitutional violations during the time he
was housed at Ely State Prison (“ESP”). Plaintiff
alleges he was denied adequate medical care, was refused a
diet appropriate for his particular medical needs, was denied
necessary medication, was wrongfully denied parole, and was
forced to endure excessive noise, inadequate heat, a lack of
outdoor exercise and cleaning supplies, and strip searches.
As detailed in the Court's order screening the Complaint,
most of the claims and defendants have been dismissed.
(See Screening Order, ECF No. 13.) Furthermore,
Plaintiff has failed to take advantage of multiple
opportunities to amend his Complaint. Accordingly, the only
claims still remaining in this case are: (1) Eighth Amendment
deliberate indifference against Defendants Michael Koehn and
Romeo Aranas for the alleged failure to provide adequate
food, and (2) Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference
against Defendant Renee Baker based on Plaintiff's
complaints of excessive noise.
March 17, 2017, Defendants Koehn, Aranas, and Baker
(“Defendants”) filed a motion for summary
judgment. (Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 55.) Then on March 23,
2017, Defendants filed a motion to stay discovery pending a
ruling on their summary judgment motion. (Mot. Stay, ECF No.
63.) The Magistrate Judge granted the motion to stay
discovery. (Min. Order, ECF No. 73.) Plaintiff now asks the
Court to set aside the stay under Rule 72(a) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. (Pl.'s Obj., ECF No. 76.)
72(a) permits a district court judge to modify or set aside a
magistrate judge's non-dispositive ruling that is clearly
erroneous or contrary to law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a); see
also Local R. IB 3-1(a). “A finding is
‘clearly erroneous' when although there is evidence
to support it, the reviewing body on the entire evidence is
left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has
been committed.” Concrete Pipe & Prod. of Cal.,
Inc. v. Constr. Laborers Pension Tr. for S. Cal., 508
U.S. 602, 622 (1993). “A decision is ‘contrary to
law' if it applies an incorrect legal standard or fails
to consider an element of the applicable standard.”
Conant v. McCoffey, No. C 97-0139 FMS, 1998 WL
164946, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 16, 1998) (citing Hunt v.
National Broadcasting Co., 872 F.2d 289, 292 (9th Cir.
1989)). Rule 72(a) institutes an abuse-of-discretion-type
standard of review, under which the reviewing court must give
significant deference to the initial decision, and may not
simply substitute its judgment for that of the deciding
court. See Grimes v. City and Cnty. of S.F., 951
F.2d 236, 241 (9th Cir. 1991) (citing United States v.
BNS Inc., 858 F.2d 456, 464 (9th Cir. 1988)).
initial matter, the Court notes that Defendants' motion
to stay discovery was granted by way of summary minute order,
so in considering Plaintiff's objection the Court is left
without the benefit of the Magistrate Judge's analysis
and reasoning. This will require a closer look at the motion
to stay and more thorough consideration of the record.
See Holland v. Island Creek Corp., 885 F.Supp. 4, 6
(D.D.C. 1995) (citations omitted) (“[W]here, as here,
the decision under review does not offer a reasoned
explanation for its decision, and merely adopts one
party's arguments in their entirety, it is incumbent on
the Court to check the adopted findings against the record
with particular, even painstaking, care.”).
although Plaintiff has two remaining claims, he has only
raised a Rule 72(a) objection with respect to his ability to
conduct discovery on the claim of Eighth Amendment deliberate
indifference based on a failure to provide adequate food.
Plaintiff's objection does not discuss nor even mention a
need for further discovery on his excessive noise claim.
Therefore, because Plaintiff has not raised the issue, the
Court will not address whether the Magistrate Judge abused
her discretion in granting a stay of discovery with respect
to Plaintiff's Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference
claim based on excessive noise.
Basis for Defendants' Motion to Stay Discovery
support of the motion to stay discovery, Defendants argued,
first, that their summary judgment motion is potentially
dispositive of Plaintiff's whole case. They assert that
Plaintiff's institutional grievances illustrate that
Aranas did not personally participate in the conduct of which
Plaintiff complains. They further assert that Plaintiff's
medical records show that Koehn ordered Plaintiff a diet that
was tailored to his medical condition, and therefore Koehn
and Aranas did not fail to provide Plaintiff with adequate
food. Second, Defendants argued that they submitted, with
their summary judgment motion, all of Plaintiff's
grievances and medical records for the time period relevant
to his Complaint. Therefore, no additional relevant
documentation could be uncovered through further discovery.
Lastly, Defendants argued that a discovery stay was warranted
because there is a “strong likelihood” that the
summary judgment motion will be resolved in their favor.
opposed the motion to stay discovery, making essentially two
arguments. First, Plaintiff asserted the general right of
litigants to conduct discovery. (Resp. 2-3, ECF No. 67.) His
main argument, however, was that Defendants asserted that all
relevant grievances and medical records were submitted with
their summary judgment motion, but actually omitted relevant
documents. To support his argument, Plaintiff attached a
number of grievances and ...