United States District Court, W.D. North Carolina, Charlotte Division
JAMES C. McNEILL, Plaintiff,
MARQUHNE BENJAMIN JOHNSON, et al., Defendants.
D. WHITNEY CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on pro se
Plaintiff's Request for Production of Documents, (Doc.
No. 33), and Motions to Compel Discovery, (Doc. Nos. 35, 40,
Complaint passed initial review on claims of the use of
excessive force and a disciplinary due process violation.
(Doc. Nos. 1, 10). The Court entered a Pretrial Scheduling
Order setting the discovery cutoff date as March 27, 2019 and
the dispositive motion due date as April 26, 2019. (Doc. No.
rules of discovery are to be accorded broad and liberal
construction. See Herbert v. Lando, 441 U.S. 153,
177 (1979); Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507
(1947). All civil discovery, whether sought from parties or
nonparties, is limited in scope by Rule 26(b)(1) in two
fundamental ways: (1) the matter sought must be
“relevant to any party's claim or defense, ”
and (2) discovery must also be “proportional to the
needs of the case.” Va. Dep't of Corr. v.
Jordan, 921 F.3d 180, 188, (4th Cir. 2019)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1)). Relevance on its own is not
a high bar; the proportionality requirement “relieves
parties from the burden of taking unreasonable steps to
ferret out every relevant document.” Id.
Whether to grant or deny a motion to compel is generally left
within the district court's broad discretion.
preliminary matter, Plaintiff's Request for Production of
Documents, (Doc. No. 33), will be denied because it is a
discovery request that was misdirected to the Court.
See LCvR 26.2 (“The parties shall not file any
initial disclosures, designations of expert witnesses and
their reports, discovery requests or responses therto,
deposition transcripts, or other discovery material unless:
(1) directed to do so by the Court; (2) such materials are
necessary for use in an in-court proceeding; or (3) such
materials are filed in support of, or in opposition to, a
motion or petition.”); (Doc. No. 29 at 2) (Pretrial
Order and Case Management Plan).
has also filed a number of Motions to Compel that will be
addressed in turn. First, Plaintiff alleges that he was
unable to view video surveillance footage that he requested
because Officer Morgan, whom Plaintiff had accused of threats
and harassment, was one of the escorting officers. (Doc. No.
35). Plaintiff asks that he be granted the opportunity to
view the video footage safely. Defendants Graham, Lane,
Morrison, White, and Williams filed a Response and supporting
evidence indicating that Plaintiff was provided several
opportunities to view the videotape outside the presence of
Officer Morgan and Plaintiff refused. (Doc. Nos. 41-4, 41-5).
Plaintiff's Motion to Compel seeking yet another
opportunity to view the videotape footage will therefore be
moves to compel the production of the following documents:
(1) DPS Heath Service Policy & Procedure Manual; (2)
pages 15-27 and 49-59 of the discovery responses including
disciplinary investigation & hearing records; (3) DPS
policy on unit management and employee training,
administrative seg, intensive control and conditions of
confinement; and (4) Health Services Medical Policy &
Procedures. (Doc. Nos. 40, 49). Defendants Graham, Lane,
Morrison, White, and Williams have filed a Response arguing
that Plaintiff is not entitled to the Health Care Policy
Manual because the request is overly broad, the document is
irrelevant to this case and extensive, and it will not be
produced unless Plaintiff makes a more specific request.
(Doc. No. 41). Defendants explain that the other materials
have either been produced already or were produced with the
Response. (Id.). Plaintiff's Motions to Compel
the production of documents will be denied because Defendants
have raised valid objections with regards to the Health
Services Medical Policy & Procedures and Plaintiff has
already been provided the other materials.
also filed a Motion to Compel addressing his requests for
admissions and interrogatories. (Doc. No. 49). He argues that
Defendants improperly refused to respond to questions about
individuals who “participated in” the excessive
force incident because it was confusing. (Doc. No. 49).
Defendants Graham, Lane, Morrison, White, and Williams filed
a Response, supported by exhibits, explaining that they
objected because the term “participated” is
confusing but they nevertheless responded to Plaintiff's
requests for admissions and interrogatories that contained
that term. (Doc. No. 55 at 5-7). The record indicates that
Defendants complied with their discovery obligation and
Plaintiff's Motion to Compel with regards to his requests
for admissions and interrogatories will be denied.
Plaintiff asks that he be provided with an additional set of
discovery because prison staff “trashed” his
legal materials including his discovery in this case. (Doc.
No. 52). This Motion to Compel will be denied as moot because
Defendants have supplied Plaintiff with an additional copy of
the discovery materials, (Doc. Nos. 54, 52), and Plaintiff
admits that most of his case materials have been returned,
(Doc. No. 56).
IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED that
1. Plaintiff's Request for Production of Documents, (Doc.
No. 33), is DENIED.
2. Plaintiff's Motions to Compel Discovery, (Doc. Nos.
35, 40, 49, ...