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Ippolito v. Goord

July 14, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marian W. Payson United States Magistrate Judge



Plaintiff, Nicholas Ippolito ("Ippolito"), commenced this action, pro se, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. (Docket # 1). Ippolito asserts, among other things, that defendants Glenn Goord, former Commissioner of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS"), Dr. Lester Wright, DOCS Deputy Commissioner for Health Services and Thomas Edwards, a physician's assistant at the Attica Correctional Facility, violated his constitutional rights by acting with deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. (Docket # 1). Currently before the Court are four separate motions by Ippolito to compel the production of documents and one motion to compel responses to interrogatories. (Docket ## 104, 105, 107, 121, 151). Also before the Court are Ippolito's motion for leave to file an amended complaint and his motion to extend discovery deadlines. (Docket ## 138, 158). Finally, Ippolito has filed a motion for an award of costs and attorney's fees. (Docket # 155).


I. Motions to Compel

Ippolito filed his first and second motions to compel on July 10, and July 11, 2007, respectively. (Docket ## 104, 105). In the first motion, Ippolito seeks to compel responses to a set of document requests served on May 21, 2007, to which, according to Ippolito, defendants failed to respond. (Docket # 104). Ippolito's second motion relates to a specific document request served among a set of requests on December 4, 2006. (Docket # 105).

In his third motion to compel filed on July 18, 2007 (Docket # 107), Ippolito references several sets of interrogatories served upon defendant Glenn Goord and challenges all objections asserted by Goord. According to Ippolito, the Court should deem Goord to have waived any objections because he failed to respond to the interrogatories in a timely fashion.

Ippolito filed the fourth of his five motions to compel on October 16, 2007. (Docket # 121). In that motion, Ippolito seeks responses to document requests served upon the defendants. (Docket # 121). Subsequent to the filing of that motion, on March 19, 2008, Ippolito served defendants with another request for documents, seeking many of the same documents and also clarifying the specific documents he was seeking. (Docket # 138). He thereafter filed the fifth motion to compel seeking responses to his March 19, 2008 requests. (Docket # 151).

The threshold requirement of discoverability under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is whether the information sought is "relevant to any party's claim or defense."

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). To be discoverable, the information "need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence."

Id. The relevance standard is necessarily broad in 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, 1368 (2d Cir. 1991) (parties entitled to discovery of any matter that appears "reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery" of evidence) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1)); American Banana Co. v. Republic Nat'l Bank of New York, N.A., 2000 WL 521341, *2 (S.D.N.Y. 2000) ("Rule 26 plainly allows discovery related to the claims and defenses of any party").

Although the scope of discovery under the Federal Rules is broad, it is not without limitation. Indeed, Rule 26 provides that the court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery if:

(i) 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;

(ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or

(iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(2)(C). Even when the material in question is discoverable under the rules, "the Court still has considerable discretion to evaluate the practical realities of discovery, balancing the importance of the information against the burdens of production to decide whether fairness does or does not require ...

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