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Alphonso Simmons v. David Adamy

March 7, 2011

ALPHONSO SIMMONS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DAVID ADAMY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

DECISION & ORDER

Plaintiff Alphonso Simmons ("Simmons") has filed a pro se complaint under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against three employees of the New York State Department of Correctional Services ("DOCS") -- Officer David Adamy ("Adamy"), Deputy Superintendent of Programs Sandra Dolce ("Dolce") and Deputy Commissioner Anthony Annucci. Simmons claims that the defendants violated his constitutional rights by denying him access to the law library at Attica Correctional Facility and then retaliating against him when he complained. (Docket # 19). Currently pending before this Court is Simmons's motion to compel discovery responses from defendants. (Docket # 37). For the reasons discussed below, Simmons's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

DISCUSSION

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 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 a party's claim or defense]") (internal quotations omitted).

Simmons challenges the adequacy of defendants' responses to several interrogatories and document requests. I address each in turn below.

I. Defendant Adamy

Simmons challenges the completeness of Adamy's response to Interrogatory No. 7. Specifically, Simmons contends that Adamy, a corrections officer in the law library, did not respond to that portion of the interrogatory that asked, "Outside of special access, did you afford the plaintiff any extra time in the law library?" (Docket ## 37 at ¶ 8; 43 at ¶ 3). While Adamy's supplemental response to the interrogatory (Docket # 34) suggests that Adamy may not have had the authority to grant inmates extra library time, Adamy must still answer the question whether, in fact, he ever allowed Simmons extra time in the library. Accordingly, Adamy is directed to supplement his response to Interrogatory No. 7 by no later than March 25, 2011.

II. Defendant Dolce

I turn next to Simmons's motion to compel further responses from defendant Dolce to Interrogatories Nos. 2, 20 and 22.*fn1

A. Interrogatory No. 2

Simmons moves to compel Dolce to respond to the portion of Interrogatory No. 2 asking how inmates are notified of the process for requesting special access to the law library. (Docket # 37 at ¶¶ 9-10). Simmons contends that because his claim alleges that he was denied access to the courts by being denied special access to the law library, the issue of whether inmates are "notified of the process for special access [is] . . . crucial to [his] allegations." (Id. at ¶ 10). Dolce objects to the question on the grounds that the issue of notice is irrelevant because Simmons has not alleged that he was not notified of the process for requesting special access. (Docket # 39 at ¶ 8).

Upon review of the complaint, I agree with Dolce that the issue of notice is not relevant to Simmons's claims. Simmons has alleged only that he was not properly granted special access; he has not alleged that he was unaware of how to request special access or that he was denied such access on the basis that his requests were improperly made. (See Docket # 19). Accordingly, Simmons's motion to compel a further response to Interrogatory No. 2 is denied.

B. Interrogatory No. 20

Simmons alleges that Dolce's response to Interrogatory No. 20 is inadequate. The interrogatory asks: "If an inmate requests special access how long does it take between the time of request and approval; approval and actual access to the law library? Are inmates approved for special access afforded any preferential access to the law library?" (Docket # 37 at ΒΆ 13). Dolce's response identifies several factors affecting the time between the approval of a request and the actual "call out" to the library and estimates the average time between approval and "call out" to be three days. (Id.). Dolce's supplemental response states that inmates who are granted special access are "afforded additional access to the law library." (Docket # 35). Dolce has not responded, however, ...


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