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Roden v. Floyd

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

May 31, 2017

JONATHAN RODEN, Plaintiff
v.
MICHELLE FLOYD, et al, Defendants.

          Victoria A. Roberts District Judge

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL (DE 30)

          ANTHONY P. PATTI UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court for consideration of Plaintiff s motion to compel Defendants' answers to interrogatories and production of documents (DE 30) and Defendants' response in opposition (DE 32). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding without the assistance of counsel. He filed his complaint and application to proceed in forma pauperis in the Western District of Michigan on April 4, 2016. The Court granted his application on the same day and transferred the case to this District. Plaintiff filed his complaint under to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, bringing claims of First and Fourteenth Amendment retaliation, based on his allegedly improper removal from the Jackson College program at the G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility.

         In the instant motion, Plaintiff asserts that Defendant Floyd has not properly responded to his discovery requests and Defendant Cady has not responded at all. As to Defendant Floyd, Plaintiff takes issue with the responses to interrogatories 2, 3, 5, 7, and 8, and sets out the questions at issue and responses in pages 3-5 of his motion. Plaintiff asks the Court to order Defendants to provide more comprehensive answers, to produce requested documents free of charge, and to provide Defendant Richard Cady's responses to interrogatories and requests for production. Specifically, he asks that Defendants provide the following documents, free of charge and prior to their depositions: 1) emails containing his name from June 1, 2015 to the present; 2) the “Clark 363” form; 3) and the civil service description for a Deputy Warden.

         Defendants oppose the motion. They assert that Plaintiff failed to conduct a good faith conference pursuant to Eastern District of Michigan Local Rule 37.1 and failed to include a verbatim recitation of the discovery response or a copy of the actual discovery response, in contravention of Local Rule 37.2. They argue that Defendant Floyd's responses were adequate and that Defendant Cady provided responses. (DE 32.) Finally, they assert that Plaintiff is required to pay for his own discovery requests.

         On April 7, 2017, Plaintiff filed a motion asking the Court to appoint an attorney in this civil case. (DE 34.) The Court denied the motion without prejudice on April 14, 2017, but noted that Plaintiff frequently referred to discovery he had received, including misconduct reports and Defendants' responses to interrogatories, including those of Defendant Cady. (DE 34 at 14.) The Court allowed Plaintiff a one-time surreply to Defendants' motion for summary judgment, as a result of the evidence he uncovered after Defendants' motion for summary judgment was filed. Plaintiff timely filed the surreply on April 28, 2017. (DE 37.)

         II. STANDARD

         The Court has broad discretion to determine the scope of discovery. Bush v. Dictaphone Corp., 161 F.3d 363, 367 (6th Cir. 1998). The scope of discovery, which permits a party to obtain “any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, ” is always subject to being “limited by court order[, ]” and thus, within the sound discretion of the court. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Further, discovery is more liberal than even the trial setting, as Rule 26(b) allows information that “need not be admissible in evidence” to be discoverable. Id. However, the court must also balance the “right to discovery with the need to prevent ‘fishing expeditions.'” Conti v. Am. Axle & Mfg., Inc., 326 F. App'x 900, 907 (6th Cir. 2009) (quoting Bush, 161 F.3d at 367). Rule 37(a) allows a party to move for an order compelling “an answer, designation, production, or inspection” if the opposing party has failed to provide a discovery response. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3).

         III. ANALYSIS

         As a preliminary matter, Plaintiff's request that the Court order Defendant Cady to provide responses is DENIED AS MOOT. Defendants provided Cady's answers to Plaintiff's interrogatories in their response. (DE 32-4.)

         A. Plaintiff's Document Requests

         As to Plaintiff's document requests, his motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. At issue is Defendants' response that Plaintiff may have the discovery he requested upon paying the State of Michigan for the copies. Specifically, Defendant Floyd states the following in her response to interrogatory number 5: “Plaintiff may receive a copy of the 363 form, consisting of 1 page, as soon as Plaintiff sends defense counsel a certified check or money order made payable to the State of Michigan in the amount of $0.25.” (DE 32-2 at ¶ 5.) (emphasis added). Likewise, in her response to interrogatory number 8, she states that Plaintiff may receive a copy of the “Civil Service Position Description for a Deputy Warden, consisting of 7 pages, as soon as Plaintiff sends defense counsel a certified check or money order made payable to the State of Michigan in the amount of $1.75.” (DE 32-3 at ¶ 8.) Finally, Defendant Floyd provides the same response to ...


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