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Coleman v. Danforth

United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Dublin Division

November 15, 2017

COREY LEWIS COLEMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
WILLIAM DANFORTH, Warden, Telfair State Prison; SAM ZANDERS, Deputy Warden, Telfair State Prison; LT. RODNEY MCCLOUD, Unit Manager, Telfair State Prison; LIEUTENANT WILCOX, Telfair State Prison, SERGEANT JORDAN-THOMAS, Telfair State Prison; SERGEANT TAYLOR, Telfair State Prison; OFFICER BELL, Cert. Officer, Telfair State Prison; JOHN DOE, Cert. Officer, Telfair State Prison; JILL CRAVEY, Nurse, Telfair State Prison; and DR. CHANEY, Telfair State Prison, Defendants.

          ORDER

          BRIAN K. EPPS, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Plaintiff, an inmate incarcerated at Georgia Diagnostic & Classification Prison in Jackson, Georgia, commenced the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 concerning events alleged to have occurred at Telfair State Prison (“TSP”) in Helena, Georgia. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery (doc no. 112), DENIES Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (doc. no. 121), and DENIES AS MOOT Plaintiff's Motion to Object (doc. no. 120).

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff asserts Eighth Amendment claims for failure to protect against Defendants Danforth, Wilcox, Zanders, McCloud, Jordan-Thomas, Taylor, Bell, and John Doe, Eighth Amendment claims for denial of medical care against Defendants Cravey and Dr. Chaney, a First Amendment retaliatory transfer claim against Defendant Danforth, and Fourteenth Amendment Claims for administrative segregation without a hearing against Defendants Danforth, Zanders, and McCloud. (See doc. no. 43.) The Court initially set June 6, 2017, as the deadline for discovery, but on the parties' joint motion, extended the deadline to August 5, 2017. (Doc. nos. 81, 95, 96.)

         On May 18, 2017, Plaintiff served on Defendants 155 individual discovery requests totaling fifty-five pages and seeking extensive information and documentation. (See doc. no. 113-1, Ex. 1.) Defendants' responses were originally due on June 20, 2017; however, on June 19, 2017, Plaintiff agreed to extend Defendants' time to respond until July 19, 2017. (See doc. no. 118-1, Ex. A.) Defendants timely responded to Plaintiff's discovery requests on July 19, 2017, serving Plaintiff with nine sets of responses including extensive substantive information, 712 pages of records, five videos, and twenty-six audio recordings. (See doc. no. 188, Exs. B-K.)

         On July 27, 2017, Plaintiff sent a letter to Defendants indicating he disagreed with their discovery responses. (Doc. no. 113-2, Ex. 2.) Plaintiff did not specify his disagreements but rather listed the seventy-four responses and cited the ostensibly applicable Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Evidence next to each. (Id.) Despite these deficiencies, Defendants attempted to discern Plaintiff's perceived issues with the responses and addressed each request, along with additional documentation, by letter dated August 7, 2017. (See doc. no. 118-12, Ex. L.)

         On August 6, 2017, Plaintiff sent a second letter requesting production of twenty-eight items, most of which were not included in his original discovery requests. (Doc. no. 113-3, Ex. 3.) Nonetheless, “in the spirit of liberal construction and compromise, ” Defendants broadly interpreted Plaintiff's correspondence requests and produced another seventy-four pages of documents and three additional recordings. (See doc. no. 118-13, Ex. M.)

         Plaintiff filed his Motion to Compel on August 23, 2017, seeking production of “Electronically Stored Information . . . for inspection and copying the documents on May 18, 2017.” (Doc. no. 112.) He argues the requests seek relevant information and Defendants waived all objections by not serving their responses within the original thirty-day deadline. (Doc. no. 114.) Defendants contend they timely served the responses within the extended time period allowed by Plaintiff, raised proper objections, and produced all relevant documents despite Plaintiff's vague requests. (Doc. no. 118.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel

         Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), “Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense . . . . Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.” The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure strongly favor full discovery whenever possible, Republic of Ecuador v. Hinchee, 741 F.3d 1185, 1189 (11th Cir. 2013), and “[w]hen there is a doubt over relevancy, the court should still permit discovery, ” Coker v. Duke & Co., 177 F.R.D. 682, 685 (M.D. Ala. 1998). However, “the Court obviously cannot compel production of documents that do not exist” and “is generally entitled to rely on representations made in discovery requests and responses.” Hunter v. Corr. Corp. of Am., No. CV 314-035, 2015 WL 5042245, at *2 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 26, 2015) (internal citations omitted).

         A discovery motion must “include the specific ground for the motion or objection” and “may not be made generally.” Loc. R. 26.5(b)-(c). Plaintiff's motion does not satisfy this requirement because of its generalities, but like Defendants, the Court will endeavor to discern and address Plaintiff's concerns given his pro se status. (See doc. no. 114.) While not entirely clear, Plaintiff appears to take issue with Defendants' responses to the following discovery requests: Warden Danforth, Request No. 11; Deputy Warden Zanders, Request Nos. 4, 5, 6; Lieutenant Wilcox, Request No. 8; Sergeant Taylor, Request No. 10; Sergeant Jordan-Thomas, Request Nos. 6, 12, 13; Officer Bell, Request Nos. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10; Dr. Cheney, Request No. 14; and all of the items requested in Plaintiff's August 6, 2017 letter. (See Id. at4). The Court addresses each in turn below, after first addressing Plaintiff's waiver argument.

         1. Defendants Did Not Waive Objections.

         Plaintiff granted Defendants an extension through July 19, 2017, to serve their discovery responses. (Doc. no. 118-1, Ex. A.) Defendants timely served their responses on July 19, 2017. (See doc. no. 188, Exs. B-K.) Plaintiff's consent to the extension forecloses any waiver argument.

         2. Requests to Defendant Danforth

         In dispute for Defendant William Danforth, TSP Warden, is Plaintiff's request no. 7 as follows:

7. Was a report made by any person concerning the incident? If so, state:
(a) the name, title, identification number, and employer of the person who made the report;
(b) the date and type of report made;
(c) the name, address, and telephone number of the person whom the report was made; and
(d) the name, address, and telephone number of each person who has the original or a copy of the report.
RESPONSE: An Incident Report was made by Telfair State Prison Staff concerning the July 15, 2013 incident. Investigator Neal Thompson of the Criminal Investigations Division also made a Report of Investigation. The information requested is set forth in the produced documents DEF00485-00648 and is therefore ascertainable by Plaintiff pursuant to Federal Rule of Procedure 33(d).

         Warden Danforth produced 163 pages of responsive reports. Plaintiff does not identify why the production is deficient. Accordingly, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion to compel as to Defendant Danforth.

         3. Requests to Defendant Zanders

         Remaining in dispute for Defendant Sam Zanders, TSP Deputy Warden, are three requests as follows:

4. State the names, titles, and duties of all staff and prison officials at Telfair State Prison from 2013 until response, who have responsibility for ensuring and preserving all institutional documentary and surveillance footage.If those duties are set forth in any job description, policy directive, or other document, produce the document(s).
RESPONSE: Defendant objects to this Interrogatory as overly broad, unduly burdensome, seeking irrelevant information, and not proportional to the needs of Plaintiff's case. Plaintiff's request for the names, titles, and duties of all staff members responsible for ensuring and preserving documentary and surveillance footage at Telfair State Prison for the past four years is excessively burdensome and irrelevant to the issues in Plaintiff's Complaint. Objecting further, this Interrogatory is irrelevant as there have been no identified issues regarding preservation of surveillance footage. Subject to and without waiving said objections, Defendant is unaware of the “names, titles, and duties of all staff and prison officials at Telfair State prison from 2013 until response, who have responsibility for ensuring and preserving all institutional documentary and surveillance footage.”
5. State the name, model, and capability of the institutional cameras mounted inside and outside B, D, also E Buildings/Dormitories at Telfair State Prison and the institutional hand-held cameras used by staff/prison officials. If the specific model mandated by Georgia Department ...

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