United States District Court, D. New Jersey
OPINION & ORDER
E. THOMPSON, U.S.D.J.
matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff Frank
Hubbard's Appeal of Magistrate Judge Douglas E.
Arpert's July 8, 2019 Order denying Plaintiff's
Motion to Compel. (Appeal, ECF No. 53; Order, ECF No. 48.)
Plaintiff, a convicted and sentenced prisoner at New Jersey
State Prison (“NJSP”), brings this pro
se action to challenge the treatment he received in
regard to his Hepatitis C infection. (See Compl.
¶¶ 1, 8-15, ECF No. 1.) He alleges that Defendant
Mary Lang, whom Plaintiff alleges to be the Administrative
Director and liaison between University Corrections
Healthcare and NJSP, violated his Eighth Amendment right by
showing deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's medical
treatment. (Id. ¶¶ 6, 20.)
April 1, 2019, Plaintiff moved to compel Defendant Lang to
answer Plaintiff's Requests for Admissions. (Mot. at 1,
ECF No. 40.) Defendant Lang had responded in a timely manner,
but Plaintiff found the answers to be “evasive,
illogical and redundant.” (Id.) Plaintiff
explained that “these questions are necessary for
Plaintiff to prove his case, and to show the court the
process employed to treat prisoners infected with [H]epatitis
C.” (Id.) Three of those questions are of
Request No. 5: When a prisoner has been diagnosed with
Hepatitis C is he treated immediately[?]
Request No. 6: Is there a waiting list for prisoners with
[H]epatitis C to be treated[?]
Request No. 8: Is it the practice of NJSP to delay treatment
to prisoners with chronic HCV until their liver function has
reached a certain level[?]
to Reds. for Admis., Ex. 1, ECF No. 40.)
8, 2019, Magistrate Judge Arpert denied Plaintiff's
Motion to Compel. After correctly stating that Rule 36 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to serve a
written request to admit matters relating to (A) facts, the
application of law to fact, or opinions about either; and (B)
the genuineness of any described documents (Order at 1
(citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 36(a)(1)), Magistrate Judge Arpert
addressed each of the three requests at issue in this Appeal.
In regard to Request Nos. 5 and 6, he found that they
“lack the specificity necessary for [Defendant] Lang to
properly respond” as they “contain no time frame
and include no factual detail specifying the exact
‘condition,' ‘treatment,' or
‘specialist' to which Plaintiff is
referring.” (Id. at 2.) In regard to Request
No. 8, Magistrate Judge Arpert found that it related to the
actions of NJSP, so Defendant Lang, whom Plaintiff alleges to
be an employee of University Correctional Health Care,
appropriately declined to admit or deny the Request.
(Id. at 3.)
District of New Jersey, “[a]ny party may appeal from a
Magistrate Judge's determination of a non-dispositive
matter.” L. Civ. R. 72.1(c)(1)(A). Upon appeal, the
District Judge shall “set aside any portion of the
Magistrate Judge's order found to be clearly erroneous or
contrary to law.” Id. However, a Magistrate
Judge's “determination in a discovery dispute is
entitled to great deference and reversible only for an abuse
of discretion.” Cooper Hosp./Univ. Med. Ctr. v.
Sullivan, 183 F.R.D. 119, 127 (D.N.J. 1998) (quoting
Dome Petroleum v. Emp'rs Mut. Liab. Ins.
Co., 131 F.R.D. 63, 65 (D.N.J. 1990)); see also
Allyn Z. Lite, New Jersey Federal Practice Rules 458-61 (2019
ed.) (collecting cases). “An abuse of discretion occurs
when a court's decision ‘rests upon a clearly
erroneous finding of fact, an errant conclusion of law or an
improper application of law to fact' or ‘when no
reasonable person would adopt the district court's
view.'” In re Zoloft (Sertraline Hydrochloride)
Prods. Liab. Litig., 858 F.3d 787, 792 n.22 (3d Cir.
2017) (quoting Oddi v. Ford Motor Co., 234 F.3d 136,
146 (3d Cir. 2000)).
light of this stringent standard, Plaintiff fails to carry
his burden in demonstrating that Magistrate Judge Arpert
abused his discretion in issuing his July 8, 2019 Order.
Request Nos. 5 and 6, indeed, lack the requisite specificity
to respond properly, and Request No. 8 assumes that Defendant
Lang, allegedly an employee of University Correctional Health
Care, has direct knowledge concerning the practices of NJSP.
And importantly, Magistrate Judge Arpert correctly pointed
out that, given the fact that discovery does not close until
October 2019 (see Am. Scheduling Order, ECF No. 43),
“Plaintiff may choose to revise his Requests and/or
seek the information through other discovery vehicles, such
as interrogatories” (Order at 3).
for the foregoing reasons, IT IS on this 14th day of August,
2019, ORDERED that Plaintiff's Appeal of Magistrate Judge