United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division
FARLEY L. BERNARD,
JOSEPH LIGHTSEY, et al., Defendants.
ROBERT B. JONES, Jr., Magistrate Judge.
This matter is before the court on Defendant Joseph Lightsey's first and second motions for protective order [DE-54, -77], prose Plaintiff Farley L. Bernard's motion to compel [DE-87], Defendants Lawson, Henderson, Watson, Manning, Frasier, Munns, Dixon, Ryan, Lett, Jones, Hestor, Agarwal, and Stovers' (collectively, the "DOC Defendants") motion for protective order [DE-93], and Plaintiffs motion for extension oftime to respond to the DOC Defendants' motion for summary judgment [DE-98]. The time to respond has expired and the matters are ripe for decision. For the reasons that follow, Defendant Lightsey's motions for protective order [DE-54, -77] will be allowed, Plaintiffs motion to compel [DE-87] will be allowed in part, the DOC Defendants' motion for protective order [DE-93] will be allowed, and the Plaintiffs motion for extension of time to respond to the summary judgment motion [DE-98] will be allowed.
Plaintiff, an inmate in the custody of the State of North Carolina, initiated this action on November 4, 2013serting claims related to alleged denial of medical care, falsely responding to grievances related thereto, retaliation and deliberate indifference to prescribed diets, conditions of confinement (poor lighting and recreation), and excessive force. [DE-l]. The court allowed the case to proceed. [DE-12]. Defendant Lightsey has filed motions to dismiss [DE-42, -50, -51] and the DOC Defendants have filed a motion for summary judgment [DE-83], which are presently pending before the court. Plaintiff has also served several discovery requests on Defendants, which resulted in the filing of the motions now before the court.
A. Defendant Lightsey's First and Second Motions for Protective Order [DE-54, -77]
Defendant Lightsey seeks a protective order from Plaintiffs discovery requests pending the court's resolution of Lightsey's pending motions to dismiss, which assert the defense of qualified immunity. [DE-54, -77]. Plaintiff filed a response asking the court to order Defendant Lightsey to provide the court with a copy of Plaintiffs medical records. [DE-70]. Subsequently, Plaintiff agreed to allow Defendant Lightsey to respond to the discovery requests within 30 days after the court's ruling on the pending motions to dismiss. [DE-91-1, -91-2].
On its own initiative or in response to a motion for protective order under Rule 26(c),
the court must limit the frequency or extent of discovery otherwise allowed by these rules or by local rule if it determines that:
(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).
The court finds good cause to allow the motions for protective order. This court has routinely recognized that "defendants are entitled to resolution of their defense of qualified immunity before being subject to the burdens of litigation, including discovery." Green v. Beck, No. 5:10-CT-3003-D, 2011 WL 666258, at *2 (E.D. N.C. Feb. 14, 2011) (citing Anderson v. Creighton, 483 U.S. 635, 640 n.2 (1987); Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800, 817-18 (1982); Lescs v. Martinsburg Police Dep't, 138 F.Appx. 562, 564 (4th Cir. 2005) (per curiam) (unpublished)). While there are circumstances where discovery may be appropriate on the issue of qualified immunity, Plaintiff has failed to demonstrate that discovery is necessary to adequately respond to the qualified immunity and has, in fact, responded to the motions to dismiss. [DE-71, -72]. Furthermore, Plaintiff appears to now consent to the motions. [DE-91-1, -91-2]. Accordingly, Defendant Lightsey need not respond to any discovery at this time, and Plaintiff shall serve no further discovery pending the ...