United States District Court, W.D. New York
DECISION & ORDER
W. PAYSON United States Magistrate Judge.
Earl Reyes (“Reyes”), acting pro se,
filed a complaint asserting claims under 42 U.S.C. §
1983, against several defendants employed by the New York
State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
(“DOCCS”). (Docket # 1). Reyes's claims stem
from his incarceration at Southport Correctional Facility
between October 2013 and March 2014. (Id.).
Specifically, Reyes asserts a claim relating to the
conditions of his confinement at Southport during the
relevant period, maintaining that the temperature in his
cellblock was impermissibly cold due to a non-functional
heating system. (Id.). This claim is asserted
against defendants John Wenderlich
(“Wenderlich”), Amy Farnham
(“Farnham”), and David Morgan
(“Morgan”) (collectively, the “conditions
of confinement defendants”). (Id. at
¶¶ 101-03). Reyes also asserts that defendants J.
Clement (“Clement”), Ben Oakes
(“Oakes”), J. vonHagn (“vonHagn”), K.
Weaver (“Weaver”), Z. Gould
(“Gould”), and K. Walsh (“Walsh”)
(collectively, the “medical defendants”) were
deliberately indifferent to his medical needs. (Id.
at ¶¶ 104-10).
pending before this Court is Reyes's motion for an order
to compel further responses to interrogatories, document
requests, and requests for admission. (Docket # 55). Also
pending are Reyes's motions to authorize depositions upon
written questions of various witnesses. (Docket ## 58, 64).
Motion to Compel
to Reyes, on December 15, 2015, he served the conditions of
confinement defendants with a set of 25 interrogatories each
(totalling 75 requests), 14 document requests, and
approximately 59 requests for admission. (Docket # 55 at 5,
¶ 2 and Appendix (“App.”) A). The conditions
of confinement defendants responded to the discovery demands
on March 15, 2016. (Docket ## 45; 48; 49; 55 at 5, ¶ 4
and App. B). On December 15, 2015, Reyes also served the
medical defendants with approximately 112 interrogatories, 7
documents requests, and 64 requests for admission. (Docket #
55 at 5, ¶ 2 and App. A). The medical defendants'
responses were also served on March 15, 2016. (Docket ## 46;
47; 50; 55 at 5, ¶ 4 and App. B). Reyes has raised
issues with respect to the majority of the responses. (Docket
# 55). He also seeks $50 in expenses. (Id. at 3).
March 16, 2016, Reyes wrote a one-page letter to counsel for
defendants expressing general concerns regarding the
discovery responses and requesting a conference. (Docket # 55
at App. C). Counsel for defendants responded on March 22,
2016, explaining the basis for a variety of their objections
and requesting that Reyes specify any particular requests and
responses in dispute. (Docket # 55 at App. D). Given the
substantial number of discovery responses, totalling
approximately 190 pages, counsel for defendants requested
that Reyes specify particular responses at issue prior to
arranging a conference. (Id.). Rather than provide
the requested specificity, Reyes filed the pending motion on
May 24, 2016. (Docket # 55 at 7).
have opposed the motion, maintaining that Reyes failed to
adequately confer prior to filing the pending motion. (Docket
# 60 at ¶¶ 20-37). Additionally, defendants
maintain that their responses to the discovery requests were
adequate and appropriate. (Id. at ¶¶
Failure to Confer
reviewed the requests, responses, and the parties'
submissions, I find that Reyes failed to comply with Rule
37(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because he
made no meaningful effort to resolve or narrow his discovery
disputes with defendants prior to filing the motions.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(a)(1) (“[t]he motion
must include a certification that the movant has in good
faith conferred or attempted to confer with the person or
party failing to make disclosure or discovery in an effort to
obtain it without court action”). Although Reyes sent a
letter to counsel for defendants raising general concerns
about defendants' responses and objections, Reyes did not
make any effort to identify the discovery disputes with
specificity, despite defendants' request that he do so.
Simply stated, Reyes's single-page letter identifying his
vague and general concerns was insufficient to fulfill his
obligation to confer with opposing counsel in good faith
prior to filing this motion. His delinquency is especially
glaring because Reyes apparently has very specific disputes
with the majority of defendants' numerous, individual
responses. Reyes's failure to comply with Rule 37
warrants denial of his motion in its entirety, including his
requests for costs. See Brown v. Clayton, 2013 WL
1409884, *2 (D. Conn. 2013) (“[t]he failure to follow
the meet and confer requirement is a sufficient basis for
denying the motion to compel”).
the absence of any meaningful conferral, defendants have
provided a lengthy, detailed response to Reyes's
concerns, presumably in an attempt to narrow the issues
pending before the Court. (Docket # 60). At this time,
Reyes's conferral obligations require him to respond to
defendants' submission and, considering defendants'
explanations, respond to those explanations with
particularity in order to identify any remaining disputes.
Although the conferral process has not yet been completed,
given the extensive submissions relating to the disputes, the
Court will attempt, where possible, to narrow some of the
issues in order to assist the parties' conferral process.
Responses to Document Demands (Docket ## 49,
generally objects to defendants' responses to document
requests to the extent they indicate that defendants would
search for and produce responsive documents and failed to
indicate whether responsive materials were being withheld
based upon objections. (Docket # 55 at 8). Reyes also
maintains that defendants improperly objected to certain
phrases or assumptions contained in several requests (Docket
## 49 at ¶¶ 1, 2, 3, and 4; 50 at ¶ 3).
Finally, Reyes maintains that defendants have failed to
produce a document executed by Farnham regarding heating
system repairs that was provided to another prisoner. (Docket
# 55 at 6, ¶¶ 11 and 8).
response, defendants maintain that they have produced
documents responsive to Reyes's demands, although some of
the documents were produced prior to Reyes's demands as
part of the initial mandatory disclosures. (Docket # 60 at
¶ 54 (citing Docket ## 23, 30, 53 and 54)). According to
defendants, they have produced approximately 1, 244 pages of
documents. (Id. at ¶¶ 40-41).
Additionally, defendants explained their specific objections
to certain phrases and assumptions and maintained that those
objections were appropriate; in any event, they have not
withheld any documents on the basis of such objections.
(Docket # 60 at ¶¶ 51-53, 62). I find that
defendants have properly responded to Reyes's general
disputes. To the extent Reyes is not satisfied with
defendants' further explanations, he must specifically
identify why defendants' explanations have not resolved
not appear that defendants have responded to Reyes's
request for the document authored by Farnham. Accordingly,
defendants should search for and produce the document, or
confer further with Reyes to the extent they are unable to do
and Disciplinary Records
of Reyes's requests seek grievances, complaints or
lawsuits against the defendants, along with related
documents. (Docket ## 49 at ¶¶ 2, 3, 10; 50 at
¶ 3). Specifically, Reyes sought all grievances and
correspondence relating to the heating system on 12 Gallery A
Block during the relevant period. (Docket # 49 at
¶¶ 2-3). Reyes also requested grievances,
complaints, lawsuits or disciplinary action taken against
each defendant. (Docket ## 49 at ¶ 10; 50 at ¶ 3).
With respect to the medical defendants, Reyes specifically
requested any grievances or complaints relating to denial of
medical treatment. (Docket # 50 at ¶ 3).
response, defendants maintain that they have produced
documents related to the complaints regarding the heat on A
Block 12 Gallery and that they would search for and produce
any additional documents relating to such complaints. (Docket
# 49 at ¶¶ 2-3 (citing Docket # 23 at Exhibit C)).
Thus, it appears that defendants have searched for and
produced responsive documents. To the extent Reyes continues
to dispute the adequacy of the response to these requests, he
must confer with defendants and identify any specific
respect to grievances, complaints and lawsuits against them,
defendants objected to the requests on the grounds that it
would be unduly burdensome to search for and produce
grievances because grievances are filed by inmate name, as
opposed to subject matter. (Docket ## 49 at ¶ 10; 50 at
¶ 3). Instead, with respect to the conditions of
confinement defendants, they agreed to produce records of any
disciplinary events taken against the officers relating to
truth and veracity or to conditions of confinement. (Docket #
49 at ¶ 10). With respect to the medical defendants,
they agreed to search for and produce records reflecting any
lawsuits against the defendants relating to the denial of
medical treatment and also referred Reyes to the PACER system
to identify lawsuits against those defendants. (Docket # 50
at ¶ 3).
request for all grievances against the defendants is overly
broad and not proportional to the needs and issues raised by
this litigation. See Willey v. Kirkpatrick, 2011 WL
4368692, *5 (W.D.N.Y. 2011) (“[a]s this Court has
previously held, the burden of searching all inmates'
files for grievances against specific defendants is unduly
burdensome”) (citing Melendez v. Falls, 2010
WL 811337, *4 (W.D.N.Y.2010)). It appears that defendants
have produced all documents relating to grievances concerning
the heating system during the relevant time period. To the
extent they have not, they are directed to do so. Defendants
have represented that the conditions of confinement
defendants' personnel files have been reviewed and no
complaints or disciplinary actions relating to either truth
and veracity or conditions of confinement existed within
those files. Defendants are directed to review the medical
defendants' personnel records and produce any complaints
or disciplinary actions relating to either truth and veracity
or denial of medical treatment. Further, defendants are
directed to search for and produce any documents within their
possession, custody, or control identifying any lawsuits
against any of the defendants relating to either conditions
of confinement or denial of medical care.
requests the contact information for several
non-parties. (Docket # 49 at ¶ 12). Specifically,
Reyes requests the contact information for other inmates who
filed grievances complaining about the heat on A Block,
Gallery 12 during the relevant period. (Id.).
Defendants have refused to respond to this request on the
grounds that it does not seek documents and because the
provision of such information would constitute a security
the Court agrees that providing contact information for other
inmates may present security concerns under certain
circumstances, these individuals are likely to have
information that is relevant to the lawsuit. “Balancing
the need to maximize the plaintiff's access to sources of
probative evidence and the security concerns raised by the
defendants, the court will not require the defendants to