Yablonsky v. California Department of Correction & Rehabilitation et al

Filing 106

ORDER granting in part and denying in part 101 Plaintiff's Motion for leave to exceed 15 interrogatories per side. Signed by Magistrate Judge Andrew G. Schopler on 2/17/2021. (All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service)(jpp)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 John Henry YABLONSKY, 11 Case No.: 18-cv-1122-AGS ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF’S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO EXCEED 15 INTERROGATORIES PER SIDE (ECF 101) Plaintiff, 12 v. 13 CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF 14 CORRECTIONS & REHABILITATION, 15 et al., 16 Defendants. 17 18 Plaintiff Yablonsky, an inmate proceeding without an attorney, requests leave from 19 this Court to serve additional interrogatories over the Court-imposed limit of 15. (ECF 101, 20 at 4; ECF 92, at 3.) A scheduling order may be modified for “good cause.” See Fed. R. Civ. 21 P. 16(b)(4). “An incarcerated party’s highly limited ability to conduct a deposition in prison 22 may contribute to a finding of good cause to file additional interrogatories.” McClellan v. 23 Kern Cnty. Sheriff’s Office, No. 110CV0386LJOMJSPC, 2015 WL 5732242, at *1 (E.D. 24 Cal. Sept. 29, 2015) (citation omitted). But under Civil Local Rule 33.1, “[a]ny party 25 desiring to serve additional interrogatories must . . . set[] forth the proposed additional 26 interrogatories and the reasons establishing good cause for their use.” CivLR 33.1(a). 27 When granting leave for additional discovery, a court must consider (1) whether “the 28 discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some 1 18-cv-1122-AGS 1 other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive;” (2) whether “the 2 party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery 3 in the action,” and (3) whether the discovery is “relevant to any party’s claim or defense 4 and proportional to the needs of the case.” See O’Connor v. Perez, No. 2:18-CV-1057 DB 5 P, 2020 WL 1030850, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 3, 2020) (citing Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1)-(2)), 6 recons. denied, No. 2:18-CV-1057 DB P, 2020 WL 6928651 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 1, 2020). 7 Yablonsky has already far exceeded the 15-interrogatory limit. On January 25, 8 2021, he “served [37] interrogatories on Defendant Martinez, and [69] interrogatories on 9 Defendant Robles.” (ECF 104, at 4; see ECF 104-2, at 7-12, 20-31.) He then withdrew 10 these interrogatories and propounded over 100 interrogatories on January 28, 2021. 11 (ECF 104, at 4; see ECF 104-2, at 43-48, 53-58, 64-67.) That same day, Yablonsky filed 12 this motion requesting leave to serve 50 interrogatories on each of the six defendants, 13 totaling 300 interrogatories. (See ECF 101, at 4.) 14 Yablonsky demonstrates good cause for why some additional discovery is necessary. 15 First, plaintiff has articulated claims against six named defendants, who “work together in 16 different capacities.” (ECF 101, at 2.) In the operative First Amended Complaint, 17 Yablonsky makes four distinct claims: (1) defendants Powell, Blahnick, and Tiscarnia 18 unconstitutionally read his mail and limited his library access in retaliation to his 19 complaints; (2) defendant Robles wrote a false disciplinary report designed to limit 20 Yablonsky’s library access; (3) defendant Martinez facilitated a “bait and switch” of an 21 appeal Yablonsky had filed; and (4) defendant McGuire placed labels over mailing 22 addresses to prevent delivery of Yablonsky’s mail. (ECF 32, at 66-69.) These claims are 23 varied enough to require separate sets of questions. See Auther v. Oshkosh Corp., No. 09- 24 CV-00527(A)(M), 2010 WL 1404125, at *4 (W.D.N.Y. Mar. 30, 2010) (allowing 25 25 interrogatories per plaintiff because of “sufficiently distinct” claims). 26 Second, because he is an indigent, attorney-less prisoner, Yablonsky has “little to no 27 means to afford the costs of performing a deposition.” (ECF 101, at 2.) Depositions “would 28 relieve some of the pressure” created by the interrogatory limit but “incarcerated pro se 2 18-cv-1122-AGS 1 litigants are rarely in the position to conduct depositions and this case . . . presents no 2 exception.” McNeil v. Hayes, No. 1:10-CV-01746-AWI, 2014 WL 1125014, at *2 (E.D. 3 Cal. Mar. 20, 2014). Because there is no other source of discovery that is “more convenient, 4 less burdensome, or less expensive,” increasing the limit for interrogatories is appropriate. 5 See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2). 6 However, plaintiff does not demonstrate good cause for 50 interrogatories per 7 defendant, totaling 300 questions. Plaintiff also fails to “set[] forth the proposed additional 8 interrogatories,” as required by Civil Local Rule 33.1. See also O’Connor, 2020 WL 9 1030850, at *3 (denying motion for additional interrogatories because plaintiff “has not 10 submitted proposed interrogatories” or “specified the nature or subject matter of the 11 additional interrogatories”); Bishop v. Harrington, No. 111CV00094LJOSABPC, 2015 12 WL 6150855, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 15, 2015) (denying motion to file an increased amount 13 of interrogatories “because Plaintiff has not presented the Court with any of the discovery 14 he wishes to propound”). Despite those inadequacies, the Court GRANTS IN PART and 15 DENIES IN PART plaintiff’s motion to serve additional interrogatories. Each party may 16 serve no more than 25 interrogatories on any other party, including all discrete subparts. 17 This means that Yablonsky may serve 25 interrogatories on each of the six named 18 defendants (for a total of 150 interrogatories), and each named defendant may serve 19 25 interrogatories on the plaintiff. Given that Yablonsky exceeded the prior limitations, he 20 must reissue his interrogatories. Defendants need not respond to the January 28, 2021 21 interrogatories. 22 Dated: February 17, 2021 23 24 25 26 27 28 3 18-cv-1122-AGS

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