United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTIONS FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER
R. UNDERHILL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
April 10, 2017, Jason Boudreau, a federal inmate currently
confined at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central
Falls, Rhode Island, filed a civil rights complaint pro
se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the town of
Branford, Connecticut, the Branford Police Department
(“BPD”), five members of the BPD, and four
members of the United States Department of Homeland Security
(“DHS”) for using excessive force during his
arrest, in violation of his Fourth Amendment protection
against unreasonable seizures. He also raised several state
law tort claims against the defendants, including assault,
battery, and intentional and negligent infliction of
emotional distress. I dismissed all claims against the town
of Branford and the BPD and all state law tort claims.
Initial Review Order, Doc. No. 19, at 13; Stipulation of
Dismissal, Doc. No. 39; Ruling on Mot. to Dismiss, Doc. No.
50. The only remaining claim in this case is a Fourth
Amendment claim for excessive force against the four DHS
officers, Doug Smith, James Bentz, David Riccio, and Brendan
Cullen, based on their decision to permit a police dog to
approach Boudreau while he was handcuffed and detained, after
which the dog bit Boudreau on the leg. See Ruling on
Mot. to Dismiss at 15.
October 18, 2018, defendant Cullen, filed a motion for a
protective order with respect to 105 Requests for Admissions
that Boudreau had served upon him one week earlier. Def.
Cullen's Mot. for Protective Order, Doc. No. 54. On
December 19, 2018, defendant Riccio filed a similar motion
with respect to 100 Requests for Admissions that Boudreau had
served upon him. Def. Riccio's Mot. for Protective Order,
Doc. No. 56. Both defendants argue that the two sets of
requests are excessive in number and that many of them are
vague and/or seek factual information that is not relevant to
the sole remaining claim in this case. Def. Cullen's Mem.
in Supp. of Mot. for Protective Order, Doc. No. 54-1; Def.
Riccio's Mem. in Supp. of Mot. for Protective Order, Doc.
No. 56-1. Boudreau counters in his written objections that
the Requests for Admissions are not vague or overly
burdensome, and they seek relevant information. Pl.'s
Resp. to Cullen's Mot. for a Protective Order, Doc. No.
55; Pl.'s Resp. to Riccio's Mot. for a Protective
Order, Doc. No. 57. The parties assert that they have been
unable to resolve these discovery disputes informally. For
the following reasons, I will GRANT both
the liberality of pretrial discovery has a significant
potential for abuse, courts may issue protective orders which
restrict permissible discovery if it would unduly annoy or
burden the other party.” Joseph L. v. Connecticut
Dept. of Children and Families, 225 F.R.D. 400, 401 (D.
Conn. 2005) (citing Seattle Times Co. v. Rhinehart,
467 U.S. 20, 34 (1984)). I have broad discretion regarding
whether to issue a protective order. Id. (citing
Dove v. Atl. Capital Corp., 963 F.2d 15, 19 (2d Cir.
1992)). Rule 26(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
provides that a motion for a protective order “must
include a certification that the movant has in good faith
conferred or attempted to confer with other affected parties
in an effort to resolve the dispute without court
action.” If good cause is shown, I may “issue an
order to protect a party . . . from annoyance, embarrassment,
oppression, or undue burden or expense . . . .”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c); see also Qube Films Ltd. v.
Padell, 2015 WL 109628, at *2 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 5, 2015)
(moving party bears burden of establishing good cause for
protective order). “Good cause is established when [the
moving] party is able to show that a clearly defined,
specific and serious injury will occur in the absence of such
an order.” Qube Films Ltd., 2015 WL 109628, at
*2 (internal quotations omitted).
for Admissions are not discovery tools in the traditional
sense. Brodeur v. McNamee, 2005 WL 1774033, at *2
(N.D.N.Y. July 27, 2005). “While discovery mechanisms
such as requests for document production, interrogatories,
and depositions typically seek to uncover information for use
in pursuing or defending against a litigated claim, requests
for admissions serve the distinctly different purpose of
assisting the parties and the court to narrow the factual
issues to be presented for determination in connection with
such a claim, either on motion or at trial.”
Id. The party requesting the admission “bears
the burden of setting forth its requests simply, directly,
not vaguely or ambiguously, and in such a manner that they
can be answered with a simple admit or deny without
explanation, and in certain instances, permit a qualification
or explanation for purposes for clarification.”
Dash v. Seagate Technology (US) Holdings, Inc., 2015
WL 4257329, at *16 (E.D.N.Y. July 14, 2015) (quoting
Henry v. Champlain Enters., Inc., 212 F.R.D. 73, 77
case, Cullen and Riccio have satisfied their burden of
showing good cause for the issuance of a protective order.
Many of the requests for admissions Boudreau has served on
those two defendants are vague and seek discovery of
information that is irrelevant and well beyond the scope of
the sole remaining excessive force claim. Some of those vague
and irrelevant requests include, but are not limited to, the
use of cellular technology to track Boudreau's location,
the policies and procedures of detaining suicidal
individuals, Cullen's and Riccio's record and
training as law enforcement officers, whether Cullen and
Riccio have used canines to track suspects in other cases,
whether Riccio “took notes of any kind during
[Boudreau's] arrest, ” the type of clothing Cullen
and Riccio were wearing during the arrest, and whether the
defendants “made any phone calls” while inside
the restaurant. Pl.'s First Request for Admissions to
Def. Brendan Cullen, Doc. No. 54-2; Pl.'s First Request
for Admissions to Def. David Riccio, Doc. No. 56-2. Boudreau
fails to explain how any of this information is relevant to
the defendants' decision or participation in the decision
to allow the canine to approach him after he was handcuffed.
See Brodeur, 2005 WL 1774033, at *3 (requests for
admissions extend beyond scope of relevant discovery). Some
of the requests also seek opinions or conclusions from the
defendants, rather than admissions of fact. See,
e.g., Pl.'s First Request for Admissions to Def.
David Riccio, Request No. 57 (“Admit that [Boudreau]
deserved to be bitten by Canine Joker”). Such requests
are improper for discovery purposes. See Dash, 2015
WL 4257329, at *16 (requests for admissions should be stated
in manner allowing for simple admit or deny response without
explanation). Good cause, therefore, exists to protect Cullen
and Riccio from the undue burden of responding to the current
Requests for Admissions.
motions for a protective order, Doc. Nos. 54 and 56, are
GRANTED. Boudreau may resubmit new sets of
Requests for Admissions on Cullen and Riccio. The Requests
must be concise and seek only factual information limited to
the sole remaining excessive force claim in this case.
 Riccio notes in his supporting
memorandum that Boudreau has served 45 Requests for
Admissions on defendant Bentz and 49 Requests for Admissions
on defendant Smith. Def. Riccio's Mem. in Supp. of Mot.
for Protective Order, Doc. No. 56-1, at 2. Bentz has provided
Boudreau with responses to his requests, and Smith is in ...