United States District Court, W.D. New York
August 2, 2005.
MAXIMO DELACRUZ, Plaintiff,
FLOYD G. BENNETT, Superintendent at Elmira Correctional Facility, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: MARIAN W. PAYSON, Magistrate Judge
DECISION & ORDER
The above-captioned matter has been referred to the undersigned
for the supervision of pre-trial discovery and the hearing and
disposition of all non-dispositive motions, pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(A) and (B). (Docket # 18).
On September 15, 2003, plaintiff, an inmate at the Elmira
Correctional Facility, filed a pro se complaint, pursuant to
42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants violated his Eighth and
Fourteenth Amendment rights. (Docket # 1). According to the
complaint, on December 6, 2001, plaintiff was involved in a fight
with another inmate at the Elmira Correctional Facility. Shortly
thereafter, the other inmate was placed in the Narcotics
Anonymous program, of which plaintiff was already a member. On
January 22, 2002, plaintiff wrote to the Superintendent of the
Elmira Correctional Facility to request that the other inmate be
removed from the Narcotics Anonymous program in order to avoid
future altercations. The inmate was not removed from the program
and, on March 11, 2002, plaintiff was attacked during class by an
unidentified assailant. Plaintiff alleges that by failing to take
appropriate action, defendants were deliberately indifferent to his concerns and
maliciously and sadistically failed to provide adequate
After having commenced this lawsuit, plaintiff sought
production of certain documents under Rule 34 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure. On December 28, 2004, plaintiff filed
the pending motion to compel discovery of the requested
materials, alleging that defendants had failed to respond to the
outstanding requests. (Docket # 28). Following a status
conference with this Court, and at this Court's direction, the
parties conferred concerning plaintiff's discovery demands.
(Docket # 32, ¶ 5-6). Following that discussion, the parties have
narrowed their disputes to two: (1) plaintiff's request that he
be provided with a complete, unredacted copy of Section 7 of the
Department of Correctional Services "Employee Handbook"
(hereinafter "DOCS' Employee Handbook"); and, (2) plaintiff's
request that he be provided with duplicates of the photographs of
the injuries he allegedly sustained as a result of the incident.
(Docket # 33). Plaintiff also seeks sanctions under Rule 37 of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
Plaintiff moves to compel an unredacted version of Section 7 of
the DOCS' Employee Handbook and exact duplicates of the color
photographs depicting his injuries from March 11, 2002. (Docket #
33 at 3). The threshold requirement of discoverability under the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is whether the information
sought is "relevant to the claim or defense of any party."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). To be discoverable, the information "need
not be admissible at the trial if the information sought appears
reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id. The relevance standard,
therefore, is commonly recognized as one that is necessarily
broad in its scope in order "to encompass any matter that bears
on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear
on, any issue that is or may be in the case." Oppenheimer Fund,
Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978) (citation omitted).
See Daval Steel Products, a Div. of Francosteel Corp. v. M/V
Fakredine, 951 F.2d 1357, 1367 (2d Cir. 1991) (parties entitled
to discovery of any matter that appears "reasonably calculated to
lead to the discovery of admissible evidence"); Morse/Diesel,
Inc. v. Fidelity and Deposit Co. of Maryland, 122 F.R.D. 447,
449 (S.D.N.Y. 1988) (term "reasonably calculated" in Rule
26(b)(1) means "any possibility that the information sought may
be relevant to the subject matter of the action") (internal
Here, plaintiff has been provided with a redacted version of
Section 7 of the DOCS' Employee Handbook regarding the
supervision of inmates, but argues that he is entitled to an
unredacted copy. (Docket # 28). Defendants oppose such motion,
stating summarily that the redacted portions are of a "sensitive
confidential nature, that, if disclosed, could endanger the
safety and security of the facility." (Docket # 32, ¶ 7).
Defendants fail, however, to demonstrate any specific safety
concerns, nor do they explain how the security of the
correctional facility will be compromised through the disclosure
of the requested documents. Alternatively, defendants contest the
relevance of the handbook to plaintiff's claims. This Court has
reviewed the redacted materials provided to plaintiff and is
simply unable to balance the potential relevance of the missing
portions against the asserted concerns for safety and security.
Defendants are therefore afforded until August 22, 2005 to
provide the Court with an affidavit specifying the safety and
security concerns relating to the disclosure of the redacted
portions of Section 7 of the handbook. Should defendants fail to make any further submission by August
22, 2005, defendants must produce Section 7 in unredacted form by
mailing a copy of it to plaintiff by no later than August 23,
Plaintiff also moves to compel duplicate copies of all
photographs taken of him following the March 11, 2002 incident.
(Docket # 28, 33). Defendants indicate that they have provided
plaintiff with both black and white and color copies of the
photographs. (Docket # 32, ¶ 9). Nevertheless, plaintiff
complains that the color copies are insufficient because they are
not properly focused. (Docket #33 at 3).
I find that the photographs of plaintiff's injuries are
relevant to this matter. Defendants therefore shall provide to
plaintiff, by August 23, 2005, duplicates of all photographs of
plaintiff's alleged injuries. Should plaintiff remain
dissatisfied with the quality of the copies produced, counsel for
defendants shall arrange for plaintiff to inspect the original
photographs and compare them to the copies produced.
Plaintiff's motion for sanctions is denied. CONCLUSION
For the foregoing reasons, it is my Decision and Order that
plaintiff's motion to compel (# 28) is GRANTED IN PART and
DENIED IN PART, and plaintiff's motion for sanctions (# 28) is
IT IS SO ORDERED.
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