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Planker v. Christie

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 8, 2019

CHRIS CHRISTIE, et al., Defendants.



         This matter comes before the Court on a motion filed by pro se Plaintiff Kevin Planker (“Planker”) to Compel Defendants to Produce Certain Documents. ECF No. 108. Defendants Dave Hoffman and Jim Barnes oppose the Motion. ECF No. 109. Upon reviewing the papers submitted by the Parties and having declined to hold oral argument pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b), for the reasons set forth below Plaintiff's Motion is DENIED.

         I. Background

         Because the Court writes only for the parties, it recites only those facts and the procedural history necessary to its disposition. Plaintiff, a prisoner at New Jersey State Prison, filed his Complaint on July 22, 2013, naming twelve defendants and alleging myriad claims relating to his confinement. ECF No. 1. Upon screening the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp dismissed with prejudice a number of Plaintiff's claims and dismissed without prejudice claims against four supervisor defendants, as well as claims asserting denial of access to the courts, denial of religious exercise, denial of medical care, denial of an adequate religious diet, and miscellaneous claims regarding his conditions of confinement. See Judge Shipp's Order, dated January 20, 2015, at ECF No. 4. Pursuant to that Order, only the claims against Defendants Barnes and Hoffman remain. Id.

         In March 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Produce Documents and Amend the Complaint. ECF No. 88. Plaintiff contended Defendants failed to provide complete medical records in discovery. ECF No. 95 at p.4. More specifically, Plaintiff contended that medical records provided in discovery did not include documents by which Plaintiff had registered medical complaints to the prison medical authorities. Id. In denying that Motion, this Court concluded that the Motion to Produce was untimely, having been filed well after a discovery period that ultimately spanned 504 days had expired. Id. at pp.4-5.

         In December 2018, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel and Continue. ECF No. 102. There, Plaintiff sought to compel Defendants to provide Plaintiff with a copy of the transcript of Plaintiff's June 2017 deposition. Id. at p.2. This Court terminated that Motion as moot on the basis of a letter dated January 3, 2019 from Defendants stating that a copy of the transcript had been sent to Plaintiff by mail. ECF. Nos. 103, 104.

         In this latest Motion to Compel, Plaintiff seeks “defense and/or the Department of Corrections to be compelled to provide the full remedy/grievance/inquiry record filed by [Plaintiff], for the Court to have all clarifying documents and information provided, and for the Clerk to enter the attached original physical evidence into the record.” ECF No. 108. Defendants oppose the Motion. ECF No. 110.

         II. Legal Standard

         Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), “[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense” and “the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action.” See also Pearson v. Miller, 211 F.3d 57, 65 (3d Cir. 2000). At the same time, the Federal Rules provide that the Court “must limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed” if it concludes that:

(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;
(ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or
(iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(C).

         Indeed, “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, Civ. No. 07-597, 2007 WL 2362598, at *1 (D.N.J. August 15, 2007); see also Pearson, 211 F.3d at 65.

         Also, pursuant to Rule 37(a), a party may file a motion to compel discovery where his or her adversary fails to adequately respond to a discovery request; nevertheless, it is ultimately within the discretion of the Court to grant a motion to compel disclosure for good cause shown. ...

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