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Brown v. Warner

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

February 12, 2015

BERNARD WARNER, et al., Defendants.


RICARDO S. MARTINEZ, District Judge.


This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel. Dkt. #87. Plaintiff seeks to compel responses to several Interrogatories and Requests for Production from various Defendants. For the reasons set forth below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's motion.


Plaintiff is a Washington State inmate who has filed numerous petitions in this Court over the last 21 years. See, e.g., C93-0979CRD, C97-5053FDB, C03-3818MJP, C04-0564JCC, C07-1441RSM, C08-5326RBL and C14-5524RJB. In the instant matter (C09-1546RSM), which was filed in 2009, Mr. Brown has alleged that Defendants violated his right to procedural due process by confiscating and immediately destroying his personal property as "nuisance contraband" pursuant to Department of Corrections ("DOC") Policy 420.375 because the state administrative code required that he be allowed the pre-deprivation option of sending the property elsewhere. Dkt. #61. In 2011 and 2012, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment addressing his claims. The Court ultimately granted in part and denied in part the motions. Dkt. #66. As a result, procedural due process claims were allowed to proceed against Defendant Lopez in his individual and official capacities and Defendant Warner in his official capacity (as he had been substituted into the case as Secretary of the Department of Corrections). Id. This Court then appointed pro bono counsel for Mr. Brown. Dkt. #70.

After appointment of counsel, Mr. Brown took no action on his case for a year. Accordingly, the Court issued an Order to Show Cause why the case should not be dismissed for failure to prosecute. Dkt. #72. On January 8, 2014, Plaintiff responded, representing to the Court that he had secured counsel and had been considering his options to resolve the matter. Dkt. #73. Plaintiff also represented to the Court that Defendants had revised Policy 402.375, and therefore Plaintiff was evaluating the revisions in light of the allegations in his Complaint. Id.

On September 9, 2014, after receiving several additional status reports from the parties, the Court set this matter for trial on June 15, 2015. Dkt. #78. The parties' current discovery deadline is February 17, 2015. Id.


A. Discovery Disputes

"Litigants may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party.'" Surfvivor Media, Inc. v. Survivor Prods., 406 F.3d 625, 635 (9th Cir. 2005) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1)). "Relevant information for purposes of discovery is information reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.'" Id. "District courts have broad discretion in determining relevancy for discovery purposes." Id. (citing Hallett v. Morgan, 296 F.3d 732, 751 (9th Cir. 2002)).

If requested discovery is not answered, the requesting party may move for an order compelling such discovery. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). "The party who resists discovery has the burden to show that discovery should not be allowed, and has the burden of clarifying, explaining, and supporting its objections." Cable & Computer Tech., Inc. v. Lockheed Sanders, Inc., 175 F.R.D. 646, 650 (C.D. Cal. 1997).

Here, Plaintiff seeks an Order compelling Defendants to produce documents in response to three Interrogatories and six Requests for Production which have been directed at various Defendants in this matter. The Court addresses each of these discovery requests in turn, below.

1. First Interrogatory Directed at Defendant Warner

Plaintiff first seeks to compel a response to the following Interrogatory directed at Defendant Warner:

Identify each person with knowledge of facts relating to this case and the issue, subject, and facts the person has knowledge of, including but not limited to persons with knowledge of Mr. Brown's removal from his cell and placement in the Segregation Unit on or about October 30 or 31, 2006 (including the decision-making process leading up to the removal), the collection and seizure of property from Mr. Brown's cell on or about November 1, 2006 (including each person with knowledge of the decisionmaking process leading up to it), and the discarding of that property or return to Mr. Brown for mailing out of the prison (including each person with knowledge of the decision-making process culminating in the discarding or return).

Dkt. #88, Ex. F. Defendant Warner answered the Interrogatory by stating that he had no personal knowledge of the facts related to the case or the underlying incident on November 1, 2006, and that he was not employed by the Department of Corrections ("DOC") in 2006, but that he and other DOC employees have knowledge of the policies and procedures at issue. Id. Plaintiff argues that Defendant Warner cannot limit his response to only his personal knowledge, and must be compelled to seek responsive information from others in the DOC with knowledge. ...

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