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Foster v. Litman

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

January 3, 2020

BRADLEY W. FOSTER, Plaintiff,
v.
ROSS LITMAN and MARK PHINNEY, Defendants.

          ORDER

          ELIZABETH COWAN WRIGHT UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Bradley W. Foster's (“Foster” or “Plaintiff”) Motion to Request Court to Compel Defendants' Compliance with Discovery Under the Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1) (Dkt. 36); Plaintiff's Motion to Request Court Hold Hearing and/or for Expanded Discovery Under the Fed. R. Civ. P., Rules 26(b)(2)(A) and 33(a)(1) (Dkt. 39); and Plaintiff's Motion Request for Modification of the Scheduling Order to Extend Discovery Time and Request for Hearing (Dkt. 58).

         I. MOTION TO COMPEL DEFENDANTS' COMPLIANCE WITH DISCOVERY (DKT. 36)

         A. Factual and Procedural Background

         The present action relates to Plaintiff's claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for Defendants' alleged violations of his Constitutional rights and various state law claims related to injuries he is alleged to have sustained as part of his transport in a vehicle he describes as a “Paddy-Wagon” (hereinafter “vehicle”) while restrained by a “Black Box Restraint System” (“BRS”) on August 3, 2015. (See Dkt. 1.)

         Plaintiff initially brought a Motion for Accommodation, seeking an Order from this Court to require Defendants to serve his responsive documents related to discovery in electronic format, including that all photographs be sent in Joint Photographic Experts Group (“JPEG”) format or other comparable format. (Dkt. 14.) Based on the Defendants' agreement to produce any discovery photographs in JPEG format or a comparable electronic format and any other discovery documents in Portable Document Format (“PDF”) or a comparable electronic format, the Court denied the Motion for Accommodation as moot. (Dkts. 20, 34.)

         Plaintiff appears to have served two documents requests on Defendants. The first request (“First Request”) is as follows:

Plaintiff, acting under Rule 34, hereby requests Defendants' make available: paper documents, records, emails, invoices and related data to Plaintiff. This request is within the scope of Rule 26(b).

(Dkt. 37 at 2.) Defendants objected to this request on the following bases: that the Request does not describe with reasonable particularity each item or category of items to be produced, as required under Fed.R.Civ.P. 34; to the extent that it seeks documents covered by a privilege; because it seeks information not relevant to the claims and defenses in the present case; and because the information sought is not proportional to needs in this case. (Id. at 1-2.) The second disputed request (“Second Request”) is as follows:

Plaintiff requires, with regard to Defendant vehicle No. 579, in Defendants lawful possession at all times relevant to this case, to produce the following items in the Defendant's possession, custody, or control: any and all documents or electronically stored information-including, writings, vehicle order sheet, invoices, logs, accident reports, maintenance logs and/or records, specialized equipment order sheets and invoices, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and any other data or data compilations-stored in any medium from which information can be obtained either directly into a reasonably usable form; or any designated tangible things; or permit inspection of vehicle number 579 possessed or controlled by the Defendants, so Plaintiff may inspect, measure, photograph, test, or inspect the vehicle and/or the designed operation of equipment on the vehicle.

(Id. at 3.) Defendants represented that they had produced all documents concerning the transport at issue, as well as photographs of the interior and exterior of the transport vehicle at issue. (Id. at 4.) Otherwise, Defendants objected to this request to the extent that it seeks documents covered by a privilege, because it seeks information not relevant to the claims and defenses in the present case, and because the information sought is not proportional to the needs of this case. (Id. at 3-4.)

         It appears that Defendants have produced approximately a total of 35 pages of documents (SLC 1-SLC 35). (Dkt. 37 at 1; Dkt. 44-4.) These documents are comprised of a Court Order related to Plaintiff's transport, two pages of what appear to be the transport logs, a letter from Plaintiff to the St. Louis County Sherriff's Office asking for the name and badge number of the deputy in charge of Plaintiff's transport along with any reports filed concerning the transport, a responsive letter from the St. Louis County Sherriff's Office enclosing the transport log, providing the name and badge number, and stating no reports were filed, and 30 pages of pictures of the exterior and interior of a transport vehicle. (Dkt. 44-4.)

         In addition, Defendants objected to producing all graphic based information on Portable Network Graphic format as opposed to the JPEG format that Plaintiff initially sought and received via agreement from Defendants as the result of motion practice. (Dkt. 37 at 4.)

         B. Legal Standard

         Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure governs the scope of discovery:

Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding 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. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). While Rule 26 contemplates a liberal scope of discovery, this Court “possess[es] considerable discretion in determining the need for, and form of, discovery. . . .” In re Nat'l Hockey League Players' Concussion Injury ...


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