Plata et al v. Schwarzenegger et al

Filing 2723


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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 10 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 11 SAN FRANCISCO DIVISION 12 13 MARCIANO PLATA, and others, Plaintiffs, 14 15 16 17 Case No. 01-cv-01351 TEH (NC) ORDER ON JOINT DISCOVERY LETTER BRIEF v. Re: Dkt. No. 2711 EDMUND G. BROWN JR., and others, Defendants. 18 19 The parties are familiar with the long procedural history in this case involving 20 medical care in California prisons, so the Court will only recap recent events. On February 21 14, 2013, plaintiffs filed an emergency motion seeking to re-open discovery. The stated 22 purpose of the request was that defendants intended to move for termination of the court 23 orders in this case imminently, and plaintiffs therefore needed “an opportunity to investigate 24 the current conditions in the California state prisons.” Dkt. 2534 at 2. The district court 25 granted plaintiffs’ motion, allowing plaintiffs “an opportunity to prepare for a potential 26 termination motion at the same time as Defendants.” Dkt. 2542 at 1; Dkt. 2546 at 3. 27 Defendants then served on Plaintiffs interrogatories and requests for production of 28 documents. The parties filed a joint letter brief on September 13, 2013, outlining a dispute Case No. 01-cv-01351 TEH (NC) ORDER ON JOINT DISCOVERY LETTER BRIEF 1 regarding Plaintiffs’ responses and objections to Defendants’ interrogatories and requests 2 for production. In the letter, Defendants ask the Court: 1) to compel Plaintiffs to 3 supplement their interrogatories to name all witnesses that Plaintiffs intend to rely upon in 4 opposing a future motion to terminate; and 2) to find that Plaintiffs waived their privilege 5 objection based on Plaintiffs’ initial responses to interrogatories and requests for 6 production, and therefore to compel production of all withheld materials. Defendants’ 7 requests are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. 8 Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26 sets forth limits on the scope and frequency of 9 discovery. Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1), (2). Rule 26(b)(2)(C) instructs that “the court must 10 limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed by these rules or by local rule 11 if it determines that … the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely 12 benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties’ resources, 13 the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in 14 resolving the issues.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C). 15 Here, the Court finds that it is premature to compel Plaintiffs to name all potential 16 witnesses they may rely upon in opposing a future motion to terminate. Considering the 17 Defendants’ access to information regarding inmates and CDCR staff, the currently 18 hypothetical nature of a motion to terminate, and the volume of letters that the Prison Law 19 Office receives from inmates, the Court finds that the burden on Plaintiffs to identify 20 prisoners and CDCR staff outweighs the potential benefit to Defendants. At the hearing 21 held on September 25, 2013, Plaintiffs’ counsel explained the process by which Defendants 22 receive notification of any inmate writing to Prison Law Office complaining of an 23 unaddressed medical problem. Plaintiffs are ORDERED to supplement their interrogatories 24 within 14 days by providing a written description of this process. The Court notes that it 25 may become appropriate to disclose the identity and contentions of potential witnesses at a 26 later date, when claims surrounding a motion to terminate have crystalized. 27 The Court also finds that Plaintiffs have not waived objections of privilege. Given 28 the burden involved with logging each and every letter that Prison Law Office receives Case No. 01-cv-01351 TEH (NC) ORDER ON JOINT DISCOVERY LETTER BRIEF 2 1 from its clients, the Court finds a categorical privilege log was appropriate. See PostX 2 Corp. v. Secure Data Motion, No. 02-cv-04483 SI, 2004 WL 2623234, at *1 (N.D. Cal. 3 June 9, 2004) (citing SEC v. Thrasher, No. 92 CIV. 6987 (JFK)), 1996 WL 125661, at *1 4 (S.D.N.Y. March 20, 1996) (finding categorical privilege log appropriate where identifying 5 each withheld document “would be unduly burdensome and … the additional information 6 to be gleaned from a more detailed log would be of no material benefit to the discovering 7 party in the assessing whether the privilege claim is well grounded.”). Therefore, 8 Defendants’ request that all withheld letter be produced due to waiver of privilege is 9 DENIED. 10 Any party may object to this order within fourteen days. Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a). 11 12 IT IS SO ORDERED. 13 Date: September 30, 2013 14 _________________________ Nathanael M. Cousins United States Magistrate Judge 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 Case No. 01-cv-01351 TEH (NC) ORDER ON JOINT DISCOVERY LETTER BRIEF 3

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