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Rivera v. Goord

March 21, 2007

CARLOS RIVERA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GLENN S. GOORD, COMMISSIONER; KENNETH S. PERLMAN, SUPERINTENDENT; G. KADIEN, DEPUTY SUPERINTENDENT; LT. CASEY, TIER II HEARING OFFICER, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: George H. Lowe, United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

I. Introduction

This civil rights action was commenced by pro se plaintiff Carlos Rivera on November 2, 2005. Plaintiff claims that his constitutional rights were violated in the course of two disciplinary proceedings conducted at Mid-State Correctional Facility in August, 2005. Dkt. No. 1.

The defendants filed an answer to the complaint in February, 2006, and a Pretrial Scheduling Order was entered setting October 30, 2006 as the discovery completion deadline. Dkt. Nos. 12, 13.

Presently before the Court is a motion from plaintiff to compel discovery. Dkt. No. 16. Plaintiff claims that defendants failed to respond to plaintiff's first and second discovery requests, which were served on defendants' counsel in April, 2006. Id. Plaintiff further states that he sent several letters to defendants' counsel requesting a response, to no avail. Plaintiff seeks an order of this Court directing defendants to respond to the outstanding discovery requests and an award of monetary sanctions. Id.

Defendants filed papers in response to the motion on October 6, 2006. Dkt. No. 19. Defendants state that the two discovery requests were substantially the same, and that a response to plaintiff's second discovery request was served on plaintiff on October 4, 2006. Id. at 1.*fn1 On the basis of their response, defendants urge that plaintiff's motion to compel be denied as moot.

Plaintiff has filed a reply, by which he contends that the defendants' discovery responses are not sufficient. Dkt. No. 21. Plaintiff urges the Court to compel the production of documents responsive to three of his eight discovery requests. Id. Defendants did not file, nor did they seek leave to file, a sur-reply.

II. Discussion

Under Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, parties may obtain discovery "regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26 (b)(1). While not unlimited, "relevance for the purposes of discovery is 'an extremely broad concept.'" Melendez v. Greiner, 2003 WL 22434101 * 1 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (citations omitted). Moreover, "actions alleging violations of § 1983 require especially generous discovery." Cox v. McClellan, 174 F.R.D. 32, 34 (W.D.N.Y. 1997) (Feldman, M.J.) (citing the late District Judge James T. Foley's decision in Inmates of Unit 14 v. Rebideau, 102 F.R.D. 128 (N.D.N.Y. 1984)).

A party objecting to the disclosure of certain evidence bears the burden of establishing "precisely why its objections are proper given the broad and liberal construction of the discovery rules found in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." Obiajulu v. City of Rochester, Dept. of Law, 166 F.R.D. 293, 295 (W.D.N.Y. 1996) (Feldman, M.J.). "General and conclusory objections as to relevance, overbreadth, or burden are insufficient to exclude discovery of requested information." Melendez, supra, at *1.

As noted, plaintiff seeks an order directing the defendants to provide documents responsive to three of his discovery requests. The first request in issue seeks:

A copy of all documents and investigation reports with Tier 2 hearing date12-27-05 by Defendant Lt Casey hearing Tape # 462-B and Appeal sent to Superintendent on 12-29-05.

Discovery Response ¶ 5.

Defendants objected to this request on the ground that it is "unclear ...


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