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Vanzant v. Wilcox

United States District Court, D. Idaho

June 12, 2017

BRAD VANZANT, Plaintiff,
v.
DEPUTY DAVE WILCOX; SGT. CHRISTOPHER CRAIG; OFFICER Y EGGIMAN; CPL. DANIEL COLE; OFFICER TRAVIS BALL; EFFIE REED-RODRIGUEZ; VERONICA FERRO; LT. GREENLAND; LT. CLARK; CORIZON, LLC.; DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION; OFFICER LARSEN; DR. YOUNG; N.P. POLSON; and N.P. GELOK, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          Honorable Candy W. Dale United States Magistrate Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Pending before the Court are three discovery related motions: (1) Plaintiff's Motion to Amend Scheduling Order (Dkt. 69); (2) Defendants' Motion for Protective Order (Dkt. 78); and (3) Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Dkt. 91). The motions are impeding the resolution of the three pending motions for summary judgment, as Plaintiff has not substantively responded to any of the motions and instead filed a response pursuant to Fed. Rule Civ. P. 56(d) based upon his discovery related motions. (Dkt. 81) Having reviewed the parties' briefing, as well as the record in this matter, the Court concludes oral argument is unnecessary. Dist. Idaho L. Rule 7.1. Accordingly, the Court enters the following order denying Plaintiff's motions and granting the motion for protective order.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Brad Vanzant, a prisoner in the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction (“IDOC”) who is currently incarcerated at Idaho State Correctional Institution (“ISCI”), is proceeding pro se in this civil rights action. Plaintiff has been allowed to proceed on Eighth Amendment claims (filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983) and claims under the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) against Defendants IDOC, Dave Wilcox, Christopher Craig, Casey Eggiman, Daniel Cole, Travis Ball, Effie Reed-Rodriguez, Officer Larsen, Veronica Ferro, and Corizon, LLC.[1] (Dkt. 12).

         Plaintiff filed the instant civil rights complaint on March 31, 2015. The Complaint alleges that, without pain medication and a special brace, Plaintiff cannot walk due to severe pain and lack of strength in his legs. Plaintiff claims that (1) Defendants denied him a wheelchair and adequate pain medication during at least some of his incarceration, (2) Plaintiff was placed in a non-handicapped accessible cell and required to use non-accessible showers, and (3) Plaintiff was placed in segregated housing without a hearing.

         The Court completed its initial review of the Complaint on August 5, 2015, instructing the parties that discovery could not begin until an answer had been filed. The Court further instructed the parties that initial disclosures were due within 30 days after an answer was filed. (Dkt. 12.)

         The Corizon Defendants waived service on September 4, 2015. (Dkt. 18-20.) A few days later, they received discovery requests, dated September 10, 2015, from Plaintiff. On October 2, 2015, counsel for the Corizon Defendants sent Plaintiff a letter explaining that his discovery requests were premature and the Corizon Defendants would not be responding at that time. The same day, the Corizon Defendants moved to dismiss Plaintiff's claims against them. (Doc. 23.) Later, several other defendants, employees of the Idaho Department of Correction, appeared and one also moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint on October 27, 2015.

         Upon resolving Defendants' motions to dismiss and allowing Plaintiff to file an amended complaint, [2] the Court entered a scheduling order on February 3, 2016, setting deadlines for completion of discovery and requiring initial disclosures to be exchanged by the parties within thirty days. (Dkt. 47, 48.)

         The Corizon Defendants represent that they produced initial disclosures to Plaintiff, which included 193 pages of Plaintiff's medical records and 68 pages of grievance records that the defense had obtained from the IDOC. The Corizon Defendants did not respond to Plaintiff's earlier discovery requests on the grounds that they were served prematurely, and later, because they expected more targeted discovery from Plaintiff as a result of their initial disclosures.

         On April 16, 2016, Plaintiff sent the Corizon Defendants a letter stating “[y]our client has failed to answer Plaintiffs Interrogatories, Request for Production, and Request for Admission.” (Dkt. 49.) Plaintiff did not call defense counsel, but instead requested counsel to contact Plaintiff or he would move to compel. (Id.) In response, on May 4, 2016, defense counsel wrote Plaintiff asking for additional details of his discovery disputes and a convenient time for a conference to discuss those disputes: “[i]f you desire to speak personally, please let me know when you wish to have such a conference.” (Eaton Aff., Ex. C, Letter of May 4, 2016.) The Corizon Defendants reasserted their objections to the September 2015 discovery requests as premature and outside the discovery period. (Id.)

         Plaintiff next sent a letter that provided no further information, but told the Corizon Defendants' counsel to contact ISCI. (Id., Ex. D, Letter of May 16, 2016.) Meanwhile, Plaintiff sought to compel discovery from the IDOC Defendants on June 8, 2016, (Dkt. 51), and refused to appear for his deposition, which resulted in a motion to compel from the IDOC Defendants. (Dkt. 54.) On August 31, 2016, the Court granted the IDOC Defendants' motion and also extended the discovery deadline two additional months to October 28, 2016, with dispositive motions due on November 28, 2016. ((Dkt. 62.)

         During his deposition on October 21, 2016, Plaintiff complained to defense counsel that the Corizon Defendants had provided no responses to the September 2015 discovery, particularly concerning the qualifications of LPN Ferro and LPN Reed-Rodriguez. While the Corizon Defendants maintained and continue to maintain their position that Plaintiff never appropriately served the September 2015 discovery, they provided additional information to Plaintiff on November 4, 2016. As defense counsel wrote, “we thought you decided to not pursue the written discovery” in light of the initial disclosures, but because of the representations during the deposition, responses were provided.

         On November 17, 2016, Plaintiff sent a letter to the Corizon Defendants asserting that his September 2015 discovery was timely, the Corizon Defendants' responses were egregiously late, and all requests for admission would be considered admitted by the failure to respond. Plaintiff stated that the Corizon Defendants knew as of April of 2016 that he wanted responses and that the Corizon Defendants failed to confer with Plaintiff regarding any objections they had to the discovery requests.

         DISCUSSION

         1. Motion to Amend

         On November 23, 2016, after the discovery deadline lapsed, Plaintiff filed his motion to amend the scheduling order. Plaintiff seeks to modify the amended scheduling order to complete discovery on the grounds that disputes arose that have not been resolved. The motion is based upon the delayed receipt of discovery responses from the Corizon Defendants, who did not respond to Plaintiff's discovery requests until November 4, 2016. Further, Plaintiff indicates that, because he served an identical set of discovery requests to all of the Defendants, he therefore needed all of the Defendants' responses so he could adequately assess whether the requests were answered correctly, as certain Defendants referred him to answers provided by other Defendants.

         Defendant Wilcox opposes the motion on the grounds that Plaintiff should have been more diligent, and should have filed a motion to compel when the Corizon Defendants' discovery responses were not forthcoming. The IDOC Defendants oppose the motion on the grounds that Plaintiff cannot establish good cause or excusable neglect for his failure to seek an extension of the discovery deadline prior to its expiration on October 28, 2016. And the Corizon Defendants oppose the motion on the grounds that they ultimately provided the discovery responses prior to the deadline, and Plaintiff failed to confer with them regarding the discovery requests. Corizon maintained that it did not provide responses earlier because Plaintiff prematurely served the discovery requests in September of 2015, contrary to the Court's Initial Review Order, which prohibited discovery until after an answer had been filed.[3]

         Once the Court sets a case management schedule pursuant to Rule 16, the “schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). The focus of the good cause analysis is on “the diligence of the party seeking the extension.” Johnson v. Mammoth Recreations, Inc., 975 F.2d 604, 609 (9th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted). Thus, the issue under Rule 16(b) is whether the “pretrial schedule ... cannot reasonably be met despite the diligence of the party seeking the extension.” Id. (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. ...


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