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Wilson v. Eagelton

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Aiken Division

July 12, 2019

Garcia Wilson, Plaintiff,
v.
Warden Willie Eagleton, Officer Lucas, Officer Cotton, Officer Sims, and Officer Williamson, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          Richard Mark Gergel United States District Court Judge

         Before the Court are various motions by the Parties: Motion for a Protective Order by Defendants (Dkt. No. 101); Motion for an Extension of Time to File Dispositive Motions (Dkt. No. 104); Motion to Compel by Plaintiff (Dkt. No. 107); Motion to Allow Production of Expunged Record by Plaintiff (Dkt. No. 114), and Motion to Compel Deposition of Blake Gordon (Dkt. No. 115.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants in part and denies in part the motions.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Garcia Wilson brought this suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, claiming that Defendants violated his constitutional rights by failing to protect him from inmate violence, by using excessive force and by denying him medical care while incarcerated at the Evans Correctional Institution ("ECI") of the South Carolina Department of Corrections. (Dkt. No. 66.)

         This is the third time that this Court has had to address multiple discovery disputes between these parties, in addition to the multiple discovery motions presented to the Magistrate Judge before the case was unreferred. Pending before this Court currently is: Motion for a Protective Order by Defendants (Dkt. No. 101); Joint Motion for an Extension of Time to File Dispositive Motions (Dkt. No. 104); Motion to Compel by Plaintiff (Dkt. No. 107); Motion to Allow Production of Expunged Record by Plaintiff (Dkt. No. 114), and; Motion to Compel Deposition of Blake Gordon (Dkt. No. 115). The Court ruled on these matters at a hearing on July 11, 2019. (Dkt. No. 125.) Regardless, the Court issues this Order to specify the Parties' duties and required production. The Court expects that, now that the Court has clarified required disclosures, the Parties moving forward will confer in good faith regarding discovery, produce discovery required under Rule 26, and confer regarding whether any discovery requests need to be clarified.[1]

         II. Legal Standard

         In general, parties to civil litigation may obtain discovery regarding "any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense" so long as the information is "proportional to the needs of the case...." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The scope of discovery permitted by Rule 26 is designed to provide a party with information reasonably necessary to afford a fair opportunity to develop her case. See, e.g., Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, P.A. v. Murray Sheet Metal Co., Inc., 967 F.2d 980, 983 (4th Cir. 1992) (noting that "the discovery rules are given 'a broad and liberal treatment'") quoting Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507 (1947). The court "must limit the frequency or extent of disco very... if it determines that the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C)(i). "The scope and conduct of discovery are within the sound discretion of the district court." Columbus-Am. Discovery Grp. v. Ail. Mut. Ins. Co., 56 F.3d 556, 568 n.16 (4th Cir. 1995); see also Carefirst of Md, Inc. v. Carefirst Pregnancy Ctrs., 334 F.3d 390, 402 (4th Cir. 2003) ("Courts have broad discretion in [their] resolution of discovery problems arising in cases before [them].") (internal quotation marks omitted). To enforce the provisions of Rule 26, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, a "party may move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery." Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). Additionally, a party from whom discovery is sought may move for a protective order to prohibit or specify the discovery to be provided. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c).

         III. Discussion

         A. Motion for Protective Order (Dkt. No. 101)

         As explained at the hearing, past investigations into similar conduct as alleged here are potentially highly relevant to Plaintiffs claims. Therefore, Defendant's motion for an order protecting Defendant Sims from questioning is denied in part, and questions regarding investigations, terminations, lawsuits or prosecutions regarding SCDC officers and employees for assault, excessive use of force, failure to protect, failure to provide medical care, or allegations of implicit or explicit involvement with gangs in prison are permissible. However, Plaintiff states he seeks testimony regarding "contraband inspections," and simple drug possession by SCDC officers or employees is not relevant to Plaintiffs claims here. Further, to the extent that any of the testimony relates to currently pending investigations, Defendant is directed to produce that evidence in camera initially to protect the security of any current investigations. However, any investigations that have been completed, including those that resulted in criminal charges or civil claims, may be discussed without prior submission in camera. To the extent that Defendant Sims needs to be deposed a second time to ask about these limited topics now ordered by the Court, the expense shall be borne by the Defendants. Therefore, Defendants' Motion for a Protective Order is granted in part and denied in part.

         B. Joint Motion to Extend Deadline for Dispositive Motions (Dkt. No. 104)

         As ruled on at the hearing, this Motion is granted, and the deadline for dispositive motions in this case is now July 31, 2019.

         C. Plaintiffs Motion to Compel (Dkt. No. 107)

         Plaintiffs motion to compel requests that the Court compel nine categories of discovery, many implicating multiple requests in discovery. The Court ruled on each request at the hearing on July 11, 2019, and further explains its holdings below:

         1. First Request Regarding the Subpoena to Jeff Eiser

         First, Plaintiff seeks the Court to compel a response to Plaintiffs subpoena duces tecum dated March 21, 2019, to Defendant's expert Jeff Eiser requesting eight sets of ...


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