Lamar v. Jackson et al
ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION 71 TO COMPEL. Objections may be filed within 14 days of this Order. Signed by Magistrate Judge James E. Seibert on 5/20/2015. Copy sent certified mail, return receipt to pro se Plaintiff. (tlg) (Additional attachment(s) added on 5/20/2015: # 1 certified mail receipt) (tlg).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA
LASHAN D. LAMARR,
Civil Action No. 3:14-CV-32
MIKE JACKSON, Correctional Counselor;
DOUG WHITE, Correctional Officer II;
ROBIN MILLER, Associate Warden of
Programs; and MARVIN C. PLUMLEY,
ORDER GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO COMPEL
This matter is before the Court on the pro se Plaintiff Lashan D. Lamarr’s (“Lamarr” or
“Plaintiff”) motion to compel, filed on April 16, 2015. ECF No. 71. On April 23, 2015, Defendants
filed a response to Lamarr’s motion. On May 14, 2015, Lamarr replied to Defendants’ response. This
issue is now ripe for review by the Court.1
In his 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint, Lamarr, currently incarcerated by the West Virginia
Division of Corrections, alleges three claims against Defendants: (1) failure to protect; (2) excessive
use of force; and (3) retaliation. ECF No. 1. On January 27, 2015, U.S. District Judge Gina M. Groh
granted Defendants’ motion for leave to pursue discovery and ordered the parties the opportunity to
An evidentiary hearing and argument on Lamarr's motion was scheduled for May 19, 2015. ECF
No. 73. Defendants appeared by Daniel D. Fassio, Esq., and Susan L. Deniker, Esq. Lamarr. Lamarr
however, was unable access the hearing by telephone to argue his motion. The Court apologizes to
Plaintiff and Defendants for failing to put in the order setting the evidentiary hearing and argument that
Defendants were to arrange for Plaintiff to call into the hearing. However, upon review, the Court
concludes that the matter can be decided on the pleadings.
commence discovery. ECF No. 39. On February 23, 2015, Lamarr served interrogatories to
Defendants. ECF Nos. 52-55. One month later, on March 23, 2015, Defendants served answers to
Lamarr’s interrogatories. Based on Defendants’ answers, Lamarr filed this motion to compel.
In his motion to compel, Lamarr argues that Defendants’ responses to his requests are
“indecipherable,” produced in “bad faith,” and fail to fully answer his interrogatories.2 Defendants
contend that answers to Lamarr’s interrogatories are satisfactory and, although at least one
interrogatory was impermissibly over broad, Defendants “provided exactly the information sought
in providing” certain prison reports. ECF No. 76 at 6 (emphasis in original). Defendants further raise
that, in filing his motion to compel, Lamarr failed to adhere to the requirements of Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 37 or the local rules of this District.
As a preliminary matter, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 requires that a motion to compel
include “a certification that the movant has in good faith conferred or attempted to confer with the
person or party failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort to obtain it without court action.”
Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1). Additionally, under Local Rule of Civil Procedure 37.02, a motion to compel
must include “[v]erbatim each discovery request or disclosure requirement and any response thereto
to which an exception is taken.” LR Civ. P. 37.02(a)(1). In Lamarr’s reply to Defendants’ response,
he acknowledges that he failed to confer with Defendants prior to filing his motion to compel. ECF
No. 91 at 1. And, in review of Lamarr’s motion, it appears to the undersigned that the motion to
compel fails to include a specific objection to a specific interrogatory response. However, the Court
Lamarr also moves for sanctions against Defendants under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. ECF No. 71 at 1, ¶ 4. However, Rule 11 is inapplicable “to disclosures and discovery requests,
responses, objections, and motions under Rules 26 through 37.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(d). Therefore,
Lamarr’s request as to sanctions is denied.
is vested with broad discretion to manage discovery and notwithstanding these procedures, Plaintiff
is entitled to leniency as a pro se litigant. Therefore, to the extent possible, the Court endeavors to
resolve his motion to compel on its merits.
Therefore, “[u]nless otherwise limited by court order, . . . [p]arties may obtain discovery
regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense . . . .” Fed. R. Civ.
P. 26(b)(1). “Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears
reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” Id. Thus, parties in a civil
action enjoy broad discovery, and “the discovery rules are given ‘a broad and liberal treatment.’”
Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, P.A. v. Murray Sheet Metal Co. Inc., 967 F.2d 980, 983 (4th
Cir.1992) (quoting Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947). Actions alleging violations of §
1983 require especially broad discovery. Floren v. Whittington, 217 F.R.D. 389, 391
(S.D.W.Va.2003) (recognizing “the important federal interests in broad discovery and truth seeking
as well as the interest in vindicating important federal substantive policy such as that embodied in
section 1983”); Cox v. McClellan, 174 F.R.D. 32, 34 (W.D.N.Y. 1997) (“[A]ctions alleging violations
of § 1983 require especially generous discovery.”); Inmates of Unit 14 v. Rebideau, 102 F.R.D. 122,
128 (N.D.N.Y.1984) (“Federal policy favors broad discovery in civil rights actions.”); (citations
omitted)); Spell v. McDaniel, 591 F.Supp. 1090, 1114–15 (E.D.N.C.1984).
In review of Lamarr’s motion, Defendants’ response, and Lamarr’s reply, it appears that only
one interrogatory–although served to multiple Defendants–is contested. As stated in Defendants’
response, “[t]he documents which were attached to Plaintiff’s [motion] were responses to Plaintiff’s
Interrogatory No. 2 to Defendant Plumley and Defendant Miller.”
INTERROGATORY NO. 2: Please give a detailed list as to all the times the use
of force was deemed necessary at the Huttonsville Correctional Center at a time
while you were Warden of the Institution. Please give any related documentation
involving these incidents.
ANSWER: OBJECTION. Defendant Plumley objects to this interrogatory on the
basis that it is overly broad, unduly burdensome and not reasonably calculated to
lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, as it seeks every instance when the use
of force was deemed necessary at Huttonsville Correctional Center without any
limitation as to persons involved or time period. Without waiving this objection, and
in a good faith effort to respond, please see the documents attached to these
responses as "Exhibit 1," bates nos. PLUMLEY 00001 to PLUMLEY 00245, Use of
Force Review Committee reports during the tenure of Defendant Plumley. The
names of inmates have been redacted.
According to Defendants, “Exhibit 1" includes reports by the Use of Force Committee as to
allegations of excessive force at Huttonsville Correctional Center. Lamarr’s primary objection to
these reports is that “inmate names are redacted and obliterated beyond understanding.” ECF No. 91
at 2. Defendants contends that Lamarr’s “access to information about other inmates’ complaints,
grievances, inmate numbers, and personal information would unfairly compromise the privacy and
potentially the safety of non-party inmates.” ECF No. 76 at 6. As such, Defendants redacted any
inmate identification in the Use of Force Committee reports. The undersigned agrees that some
redaction of discovery is founded for security reasons. Yet, Lamarr contends that, because of the
redactions, he “cannot discern if the reference is to one inmate on several occasions or several
inmates on the same occasion.” ECF No. 91 at 2. This contention is also valid. Therefore, in order
to remedy both concerns, Defendants shall provide Plaintiff all Use of Force Committee reports
regarding excessive force at Huttonsville Correctional Center within two years prior to the date of
the alleged incident against Lamarr. The reports must be redacted, however, the redactions as to
prisoner identification must be changed to identify different prisoners by letter.3
For example, prisoners would be addressed as “Prisoner A,” “Prisoner B,” and “Prisoner C.”
For the reasons stated above, Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel, ECF No. 71, is GRANTED IN
Filing of objections does not stay this Order.
Any party may, within fourteen  days of this Order, file with the Clerk of the Court
written objections identifying the portions of the Order to which objection is made, and the basis for
such objection. A copy of such objections should also be submitted to the District Court Judge of
Record. Failure to timely file objections to the Order set forth above will result in waiver of the right
to appeal from a judgment of this Court based upon such order.
The Clerk of the Court is directed to transmit a copy of this Order to parties who appear pro
se and any counsel of record, as applicable.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ James E. Seibert
JAMES E. SEIBERT
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
DATED: May 20, 2014
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