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King v. Williams

United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division

May 1, 2015

CHERYL KING and KEVIN KING, Plaintiffs,
v.
TIFFANEY WILLIAMS, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO RE-OPEN AND COMPEL DISCOVERY (ECF #55)

MATTHEW F. LEITMAN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

INTRODUCTION AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

On November 19, 2012, Plaintiffs Kevin King and his wife Cheryl King (collectively, the “Kings”), acting pro se, filed this civil-rights action against Defendant Tiffaney Williams (“Williams”). (See the Complaint, ECF #1.) The Kings filed an Amended Complaint on March 7, 2013, (See ECF #12) and a Second Amended Complaint on July 8, 2013. (See ECF #21.)

King is an inmate in the custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections (the “MODC”); Williams is a corrections officer employed by the MODC. The Kings allege in their Second Amended Complaint that, on July 12, 2012, in retaliation for earlier complaints the Kings made against Williams, Williams prohibited the Kings from sitting next to each other and embracing each other during a prison visit in which such contact would otherwise be allowed. (See Id. at ¶¶3-9.)

Discovery closed on January 27, 2014. (See Scheduling Order, ECF #30.) Following the close of discovery, Williams moved for summary judgment. (See ECF #38.) The Magistrate Judge recommended that Williams’ motion be denied (see ECF #45) and Williams objected to this recommendation. (See ECF #46.) On September 29, 2014, the Court sustained in part, and overruled in part, Williams’ objections, and it denied Williams summary judgment on the Kings’ retaliation claim. (See ECF #47.)

On December 15, 2014, the Kings moved to re-open discovery and they asked the Court to assign them pro bono counsel. (See ECF #50.) The Court denied their request to re-open discovery without prejudice (see ECF #50), and on January 29, 2015, the Court appointed the Kings pro bono counsel. (See ECF #52.)

Newly-appointed pro bono counsel has now filed a motion to re-open and compel discovery. (See the “Discovery Motion, ” ECF #56.) The Court both appreciates pro bono counsel agreeing to take on this representation, and his vigorous advocacy for his clients. However, given that this action is well over two-years-old, that substantial discovery (including depositions) has already taken place, and that discovery closed months ago, the Court is not inclined to re-open discovery. The Court also believes that much of the discovery the Kings now request in the Discovery Motion is not relevant or germane to their cause of action against Williams. Therefore, for all of the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART the Kings’ Discovery Motion.

ANALYSIS

The Court has broad discretion under the rules of civil procedure to manage the discovery process and control its docket. See Marie v. Am. Red Cross, 771 F.3d 344, 366 (6th Cir. 2014) (citing Wolotsky v. Huhn, 960 F.2d 1331, 1338 (6th Cir. 1992)); see also Emmons v. McLaughlin, 874 F.2d 351, 356 (6th Cir. 1981) (“It is well established [] that the scope of discovery is within the sound discretion of the trial court”).

Here, the Kings ask the Court to re-open and compel discovery on seven discrete topics. (See Disc. Mot. at 5-13, Pg. ID 463-471.) The Kings also ask the Court to allow them to take additional depositions, amend their witness list, and potentially amend the Second Amended Complaint. (See Id. at 13-14, Pg. ID 471-472.) The Court addresses each of these issues separately below.

A. The Kings’ Request for Documents Related to “Other Analogous Complaints” Against Williams

The Kings’ first request is for “all documents relating to any other complaints against [Williams] by inmates or their visitors.” (Id. at 5-6, Pg. ID 463-464.) Williams responds that the requested documents are not relevant, and that because “[t]here is no central file containing grievances against [Williams], ” locating these documents would be substantially burdensome. (See Williams’ Response, ECF #57 at 4, Pg. ID 505.)

The Court DENIES this request. The documents that are the subject of this request are not particularly relevant to the claims before the Court. This case is about whether Williams violated the Kings’ rights by wrongfully retaliating against them. Complaints about other unrelated incidents that involve other individuals – which may or may not have any validity – are simply not especially relevant to the Kings’ cause of action here. And, in any event, any marginal relevance the documents may have is outweighed by the substantial burden it would place on Williams to locate and produce the requested documents. See Fed. ...


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