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Clark v. Sheffield

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

March 26, 2018

ARTHUR LAWTON CLARK, Plaintiff,
v.
LYNN SHEFFIELD, Sheriff; LT. TOMMY BARRENTINE; and DR. PETER WROBEL, Defendants.

          ORDER

          BRIAN K. EPPS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, an inmate at Autry State Prison in Pelham, Georgia, commenced the above-captioned case pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 concerning events alleged to have occurred at Dodge County Law Enforcement Center (“DCLEC”) in Eastman, Georgia. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Compel. (Doc. no. 32.)

         I. BACKGROUND

         The complaint alleges Defendants were deliberately indifferent to Plaintiff's medical needs while he was housed at DCLEC. (See generally doc. no. 1.) On January 29, 2018, Plaintiff filed a “request to clarify, ” in which he asked for legal advice regarding the number of interrogatories and requests for productions he could propound and the sufficiency of Defendants' interrogatory responses. (Doc. no. 30.) The Court denied Plaintiff's request on the ground it may not give legal advice. (Doc. no. 31.) Plaintiff then filed the present motion to compel seeking an order from the Court compelling Defendants to answer certain interrogatory requests. (Doc. no. 32.) The motion did not contain a certification that Plaintiff conferred in good faith with opposing counsel before filing the motion. (Id.) Defendants oppose the motion on the grounds it does not comply with Fed.R.Civ.P. 37 or the Local Rules and they have already provided complete responses to Plaintiff's requests. (Doc. nos. 35, 37, 41.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         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).

         Plaintiff's motion does not contain, as is required by Local Rule 26.5, a statement that Plaintiff has made a good faith effort to resolve this discovery dispute with defense counsel. (See doc. no. 32.) As the Court previously informed Plaintiff:

If Plaintiff wishes to file a motion to compel pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37, he should first contact the attorney for Defendants and try to work out the problem; if Plaintiff proceeds with the motion to compel, he should file a statement certifying that he has contacted opposing counsel in a good faith effort to resolve any dispute about discovery. Loc. R. 26.5.

(Doc. no. 2, p. 4.)

         The duty-to-confer prerequisite is not an empty formality. Merritt v. Marlin Outdoor Advert. Ltd., CV 410-053, 2010 WL 3667022, at *4 (S.D. Ga. Sept. 15, 2010). Failure to include such good faith certification, or to make the requisite good faith effort, amounts to a failure to comply with Federal Rule 37(a)(1) and Local Rule 26.5 and warrants denial of the discovery motion. See Holloman v. Mail-Well Corp., 443 F.3d 832, 844 (11th Cir. 2006) (affirming denial of discovery motion based on “a failure to work with the defendants in good faith” during discovery process); Haynes v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., 466 F. App'x 763, 765-66 (11th Cir. 2012) (affirming denial of motion to compel where movant failed to consult in good faith with opponent before filing motion). Therefore, Plaintiff's motion is ripe for denial for failure to comply with Federal Rule 37(a)(1) and Local Rule 26.5. Nevertheless, the Court will address each of Plaintiff's requests on the merits.

         A. Interrogatories to Defendant Sheffield

         In dispute for Defendant Lynn Sheffield, Sheriff, are two interrogatories as follows:

10. Was the medical provider, Dr. Wrobel, or the employees of Southern Correctional Medicine provided records of Mr. Clark's em. rm. medical exam and subsequent booking by your employees at the Dodge Co. L.E.C. on May 12-13[], 2015?
RESPONSE: Defendant is not personally aware whether such records (if they exist) were provided to Southern Correctional Medicine, but the normal process is for medical documentation to be provided to the ...

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