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Valentin v. City of Rochester

United States District Court, W.D. New York

September 26, 2014

HECTOR L. VALENTIN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF ROCHESTER, et al., Defendants.

DECISION & ORDER

MARIAN W. PAYSON, Magistrate Judge.

Hector L. Valentin ("Valentin") filed this action pro se against the City of Rochester, the Rochester Police Department and various individuals employed by the City of Rochester (collectively, the "City Defendants") and the County of Monroe and various individuals employed by Monroe County (collectively, the "County Defendants"), asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 arising out of a 2001 criminal prosecution against him. (Docket # 1). Currently pending before this Court are several discovery motions filed by Valentin seeking to compel responses to discovery demands. (Docket ## 45, 55, 67, 80, 81). Also pending before this Court is the County Defendants' cross-motion for a protective order.[1] (Docket # 53).

PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Valentin's fifty-nine-page complaint alleges a variety of wrongful conduct committed by the named defendants during a 2001 criminal prosecution of Valentin. (Docket # 1). In his complaint, Valentin asserts that the defendants violated their obligations pursuant to Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) (" Brady "), by failing to disclose exculpatory information to him. ( See, e.g., id. at 2-4). Specifically, Valentin alleges that the defendants failed to disclose the criminal records of Terrence McLaurin ("McLaurin"), Sarah Bower ("Bower") and John Kemp ("Kemp"), each of whom allegedly testified during the criminal proceedings against him. ( Id. at 3, 5, 11, 35).

There are currently six discovery motions pending before this Court. Many of the motions seek the same relief and concern the same discovery demands. For efficiency and clarity, the Court will address pending motions as they relate to each discovery demand at issue.

DISCUSSION

A. Interrogatories to the City and County Defendants

On July 5, 2013, Valentin served interrogatories directed to several of the City Defendants, namely, Cotsworth, Hoke, Mace, Murphy, Walther and Adirabte (the "City Defendant Interrogatories"). (Docket ## 34, 34-1, 34-2, 34-3, 34-4, 34-5). On July 15, 2013, Valentin served interrogatories directed to several of the County Defendants, namely, Caceci, Fierro, Marchinoi, and Sisca (the "County Defendant Interrogatories"). (Docket ## 36, 36-1, 36-2, 38). On December 10, 2013, Valentin filed a motion to compel responses to these interrogatories. (Docket # 45).

After receiving an extension of time to respond to the motion, the City Defendants opposed the motion on January 24, 2014. (Docket ## 48, 50, 51, 52). They contend that the interrogatories are overly-broad and not the proper subject matter for interrogatories. (Docket # 51 at ¶ 3). In subsequent filings, the City Defendants objected to the number of interrogatories served, contending that Valentin had exceeded the number permitted by Rule 33 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which limits to twenty-five the number of interrogatories that a party may serve on another party. (Docket # 76 at ¶ 5). The City Defendants further maintained that the interrogatories are objectionable because they make improper assumptions, seek irrelevant information or request information not within the knowledge of the City Defendants.[2] (Docket # 85 at ¶ 13).

Similarly, after receiving an extension of time to respond to the motion, the County Defendants cross-moved for a protective order. (Docket ## 48, 49, 53). In their motion, the County Defendants maintained that the interrogatories exceeded the permissible number under Rule 33. (Docket # 53 at ¶ 7). The County Defendants requested that the Court limit Valentin to a total of twenty-five interrogatories for all County Defendants. ( Id. at ¶ 8).

Valentin maintains that the majority of his interrogatories merely require a "yes or no" response, his interrogatories are not otherwise overbroad and they are designed to narrow the issues in the litigation. (Docket # 56 at ¶¶ 10-12). Further, Valentin concedes that the Federal Rules limit him to twenty-five interrogatories per party, but maintains that the Court may exercise its discretion to allow him more. (Docket # 55 at ¶ 14). In any event, Valentin contends that the County and City Defendants' objections to his interrogatories are untimely under Rule 33 because they were not made within thirty days of service of the interrogatories (Docket ## 55 at ¶¶ 14-16; 55 at ¶¶ 15-18; 58 at ¶¶ 8-9; 60 at ¶¶ 4-6, 7(d)-(f)).

Rule 33(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a party may serve "no more than 25 written interrogatories" on another party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(a). The Court has reviewed the interrogatories served by Valentin and agrees that each set of interrogatories well exceeds the permitted number. (Docket ## 34, 34-1, 34-2, 34-3, 34-4, 34-5, 36, 36-1, 36-2, 38). Further, Valentin did not seek leave of the Court to exceed the limit set forth in Rule 33(a). Although the Court has discretion to permit Valentin to exceed the limit, given the number of sets of interrogatories propounded, the Court declines to do so. Accordingly, the City and County Defendants are directed to respond to the first twenty-five interrogatories in each set of interrogatories propounded by Valentin. See Madison v. Nesmith, 2008 WL 619171, *3 (N.D.N.Y. 2008) ("[u]nder Rule 33, plaintiff was entitled to serve up to 25 interrogatories on each of the three defendants").

With respect to the City and County Defendants' objections to the individual interrogatories, the Court deems them waived. The interrogatories were served in July 2014, and the City and County Defendants did not respond, object or move for a protective order within the thirty-day deadline set forth in Rule 33. See Berube v. Great Atl. & P. Tea Co., 2006 WL 3826702, * 5 (D. Conn. 2006) ("[t]he majority of courts follow the general rule that objections are waived if they are not made within thirty days of service, unless the answering party has sought leave of the court to make an untimely objection, or unless good cause' is shown") (collecting cases), adhered to on reconsideration, 2007 WL 30863 (D. Conn. 2007). Here, the defendants have provided no explanation for their failure to timely respond or object to Valentin's interrogatories. Accordingly, the individual City and County ...


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