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Baadhio v. Lanigan

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 1, 2014

RANDY BAADHIO, Plaintiff,
v.
GARY LANIGAN et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

DOUGLAS E. ARPERT, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on a Motion by Plaintiff Randy Baadhio ("Plaintiff") [dkt. no. 78], which seeks to: (1) compel Defendant Matthew Bernstein ("Bernstein"), and Defendants Lorrain Weigand, Todd Zimmelman, Virginia Gogarty, Carol Gallagher, Dr. Joran Lieberman, Dr. Abu Ahasan, Dr. Ihuoma Nwachuwku, and the University of Dentistry Medicine of New Jersey ("UMDNJ Defendants") (collectively, "Defendants") to produce documents responsive to Plaintiff's Notice to Produce Documents, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B)(iv). Defendants oppose Plaintiff's Motion [dkt. nos. 81 and 82]. For the reasons specified below, Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED.

I. BACKGROUND

Since the parties are intimately familiar with the facts of this case, the Court will only recite the facts necessary to decide the instant Motion. Plaintiff was previously incarcerated at New Jersey State Prison ("NJSP"). During his incarceration, Plaintiff filed suit, claiming that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by subjecting him to inhumane conditions of confinement and deliberately ignoring his medical needs. Plaintiff subsequently served a Notice to Produce Documents, which included nine specifically enumerated requests and four paragraphs of non-enumerated general requests. See dkt. no. 79 at pp. 10-11. Defendants responded in part and objected in part. Unsatisfied with Defendants' responses, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

It is well established that the scope of discovery in federal litigation is broad. See 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. Id .; see also Pearson v. Miller, 211 F.3d 57, 65 (3d Cir. 2000). Moreover, information sought by the parties need not be admissible at trial if it is "reasonably calculated" to lead to discovery of admissible evidence. FED. R. CIV. P. 26.

During the course of discovery, "[a] party may serve on any other party a request within the scope of Rule 26(b)" to produce documents "in the responding party's possession, custody, or control." FED. R. Civ. P. 34(a)(1). Of course, the responding party is not obliged to produce documents that it does not possess or cannot obtain. See Bumgarner v. Hart, Civ. No. 05-3900, 2007 WL 38700, at *5 (D.N.J. 2007) (holding that the Court cannot order production of documents that are not in the responding party's possession or control); see also Societe Internationale Pour Participations Industrielles Et Commerciales, S.A. v. Rogers, 357 U.S. 197, 204 (1958) (acknowledging that Rule 34 requires inquiry into whether a party has control over documents). Not only must the requested documents be in the responding party's possession or control, they must also be relevant. The precise boundaries of the Rule 26 relevance standard depend upon the context of each particular action, and the determination of relevance is within the discretion of the District Court. See Barnes Found. v. Twp. of Lower Merion, 1996 WL 653114, at *1 (E.D. Pa. 1996).

While the scope of discovery is undoubtedly broad, the Federal Rules also provide that a Court "must limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed" if it concludes that: (1) the discovery sought is cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (2) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or (3) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. FED. R. Civ. P. 26. Further, "the Court has a responsibility to protect privacy and confidentiality interests" and "has authority to fashion a set of limitations that allow as much relevant material to be discovered as possible... while preventing unnecessary intrusions into legitimate interests that may be harmed by the discovery of material sought." Schmulovich v. 1161 Rt. 9 LLC, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59705, at *3-4 (D.N.J. 2007); see also Pearson, 211 F.3d at 65; Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c).

Rule 37(a) allows a party to file a motion to compel discovery where the opposing party fails to respond adequately to a document request propounded pursuant to Rule 34. FED. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(3)(B)(iv). Ultimately, it is within the discretion of the Court to grant a motion to compel disclosure for good cause shown. In re Cendant Corp. Sec. Litig., 343 F.3d 658, 661 (3d Cir. 2003).

III. DISCUSSION

In the present Motion, Plaintiff moves under Fed. R. Civ. P 37(a) to compel Defendants to produce documents responsive to his Notice to Produce Documents. The Court will first address Plaintiff's general requests, and then address Plaintiff's specific requests as they pertain to each set of Defendants.

A. Plaintiff's General Requests

The Court discerns the following requests from the four non-enumerated paragraphs in Plaintiff's Notice to Produce Documents:

(1) Documentation from the Crisis Center at NJSP, such as statistics on suicides, attempted suicides, the "reason for [the Crisis Center's] existence, " and information ...

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