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Conley v. Brysgel

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

April 25, 2018

JOHN L. CONLEY, Plaintiff,
v.
OFFICER BRYSGEL, ET AL., Defendant.

          RULING AND ORDER

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         John L. Conley (“Plaintiff”), currently confined at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Institution, has filed two motions to compel and a motion to alter or amend judgment. ECF Nos. 34-36.

         For the following reasons, the first motion to compel, ECF No. 35, is DENIED in part and GRANTED in part; the second motion to compel, ECF No. 36, is DENIED as moot; and the motion to alter or amend judgment, ECF No. 34, which seeks reconsideration of the Court's Order denying in part Mr. Conley's motion to amend, is GRANTED, but, after careful reconsideration, the relief requested is DENIED.

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Court assumes familiarity with the factual allegations in this case. See Initial Review Order (“IRO”) at 1-3, ECF No. 7. Mr. Conley filed a Complaint on February 22, 2017. Compl., ECF No. 1. The Court issued an Initial Review Order on May 9, 2017, which dismissed the Complaint to the extent that it sought monetary damages against Defendants in their official capacities or asserted claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 and 1986. IRO at 6; see also 28 U.S.C. 1915A(b) (requiring Court to review prisoner civil complaints against governmental actors and “dismiss . . . any portion of [a] complaint [that] is frivolous, malicious, or fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted”). Mr. Conley's Eighth Amendment deliberate indifference claims, however, proceeded against Correctional Officers Brysgel and Black in their official and individual capacities. IRO at 6.

         On August 28, 2017, Defendants filed an Answer to Mr. Conley's Complaint with affirmative defenses. Answer, ECF No. 17. Mr. Conley filed a response to the Answer on November 13, 2017. Resp., ECF No. 26. On November 28, 2017, Mr. Conley filed a motion to amend the Complaint, which the Court granted in part and denied in part. ECF Nos. 27, 31.

         On February 9, 2018, Mr. Conley filed a Notice to the Court on discovery matters. Order, ECF No. 32. The Court denied the Notice on February 21, 2018, explaining that, to the extent that the Notice was a request for production of documents or a motion to compel, it was improperly filed. Id. at 1. Mr. Conley then filed a motion to alter or amend the Complaint on February 26, 2018. First Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 34. Mr. Conley filed a second motion to amend on April 10, 2018. Second Mot. to Amend, ECF No. 35.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Under Rule 26(b)(1), “[i]nformation is discoverable . . . if it is relevant to any party's claim or defense and is proportional to the needs of the case.” Rule 26 Advisory Committee Notes to 2015 Amendments. Even after the 2015 amendments, “[r]elevance is still to be construed broadly to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on any party's claim or defense.” Bagley v. Yale Univ., No. 3:13-cv-1890 (CSH), 2015 WL 8750901, at *7 (D. Conn. Dec. 14, 2015) (citing State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co. v. Fayda, No. 14-cv-9792, 2015 WL 7871037, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 12, 2015)). This Court has “wide latitude to determine the scope of discovery.” In Re Agent Orange Product Liability Litig., 517 F.3d 76, 103 (2d Cir. 2008); see also Mirra v. Jordan, No. 13-cv-5519, 2016 WL 889683, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 23, 2016) (“Motions to compel are left to the court's sound discretion.”). “The objecting party bears the burden of demonstrating specifically how, despite the broad and liberal construction afforded [by] the federal discovery rules, each request is not relevant or how each question is overly broad, unduly burdensome or oppressive.” Klein v. AIG Trading Grp. Inc., 228 F.R.D. 418, 422 (D. Conn. 2005) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

         The prevailing party on a motion to compel is entitled to receive “reasonable expenses incurred in making the motion, including attorney's fees.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(5)(A). The Court may only award fees incurred in the making of a necessary motion. See Argo Marine Sys., Inc. v. Camar Corp., 102 F.R.D. 280, 285 (S.D.N.Y. 1984) (“[T]he Court must make a careful determination, based upon its knowledge and experience of the litigation process, of the additional expenses incurred by defendant as a direct result of such noncompliance as is found.”); S.E.C. v. Yorkville Advisors, LLC, No. 12-cv-7728 (GBD) (HBP), 2015 WL 855796, at *9 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 27, 2015) (“Monetary sanctions under Rule 37(a) . . . are intended to deter discovery abuses . . . [and] are designed to compensate the prevailing party for expenses it would not have incurred had the sanctioned party conducted itself property.”) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a), a party may amend its pleading as of right within twenty-one days after serving it or “if the pleading is one to which a responsive pleading is required, [within] 21 days after service of a responsive pleading or 21 days after service of a motion” to dismiss, a motion for more definite statement, or a motion to strike, whichever is earlier. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1). “In all other cases, a party may amend its pleading only with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2). Leave to amend a complaint “shall be freely given when justice so requires.” See Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962) (“In the absence of any apparent or declared reason-such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of the allowance of the amendment, futility of the amendment, etc.-the leave should, as the rules require, be ‘freely given.'”). “The rule in the Second Circuit has been to allow a party to amend its pleadings in the absence of prejudice or bad faith.” Solman v. Corl, 3:15-cv-1610 (JCH), 2017 WL 3527693, at *1 (D. Conn. Aug. 16, 2017) (quoting Independence Ins. Serv. Corp. v. Hartford Fin. Servs. Grp., Inc., 04-cv-1512 (JCH), 2005 WL 1038991, at *4 (D. Conn. May 3, 2005)).

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Motions to Compel

         In his first motion to compel, dated February 20, 2018, and received for filing February 26, 2018, Mr. Conley states that on November 18, 2017, he sent a request for production of documents to Defendants seeking camera footage and other documents. First Mot. to Compel at 1. Counsel for Defendants (“Counsel”) responded to the request for production on January 18, 2018. Id. at 3-5. One of the requests sought camera footage of an incident that occurred between Mr. Conley and Officer Brysgel on September 26, 2016. Id. at 4. Counsel indicated that she would make the videotapes available for Mr. Conley to ...


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