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El-Massri v. New Haven Correctional Center

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

October 8, 2019

ANDREW EL-MASSRI, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW HAVEN CORRECTIONAL CENTER, DEPUTY WARDEN MARMORA, LIEUTENANT CACIOLI, LIEUTENANT LEWIS, LIEUTENANT WILLIAMS, OFFICER HEBERT, OFFICER McGIVNEY, NURSE GOODE, Defendants.

          RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS TO COMPEL [DOC. 50, 51]

          CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR., SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Pro se plaintiff, Andrew El-Massri, an inmate currently incarcerated at the Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown, Connecticut, has filed a civil rights complaint pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the New Haven Correctional Center ("NHCC"), where he was previously confined, and seven of the facility's employees in their individual and official capacities: Deputy Warden Marmora, Lieutenant Cacioli, Lieutenant Lewis, Lieutenant Williams, Officer Hebert, Officer McGivney, and Nurse Goode (herein collectively "Defendants"). In brief, El-Massri's claims stem from Defendants' alleged use of physical force and Oleoresin Capsaicin ("OC") spray upon him following an altercation he had with another inmate on November 26, 2015, at NHCC, where he was then confined as a pretrial detainee. Plaintiff also alleges that Defendants wrongfully refused to allow him to shower for three days thereafter, thereby preventing him from decontaminating himself from the OC spray. He claims that this failure to allow him to shower constituted an unconstitutional condition of confinement and deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.

         After reviewing El-Massri's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A, the Court issued an "Initial Review Order" which permitted El-Massri's Fourteenth Amendment excessive force claim to proceed against Williams, Cacioli, Lewis, Hebert, Goode, and McGivney, and a Connecticut common law civil assault claim to proceed against Williams, Cacioli, Lewis, and Hebert. El-Massri v. New Haven Corr. Ctr., No. 3:18-CV-1249 (CSH), 2018 WL 4604308, at *11 (D. Conn. Sept. 25, 2018). Additionally, the Court allowed Plaintiff's Fourteenth Amendment claims for unconstitutional conditions of confinement and deliberate indifference to serious medical needs to proceed against all individual defendants and a supervisory liability claim to proceed against Marmora.[1] Id.

         Thereafter, El-Massri moved to amend his Complaint, and the Court granted that motion in part and denied it in part. El-Massri v. New Haven Corr. Ctr., No. 3:18-CV-1249 (CSH), 2019 WL 3491639, at *14 (D. Conn. July 31, 2019). In its Ruling, the Court delineated the plausible claims that may proceed in the Amended Complaint:

(a) Fourteenth Amendment excessive force claim against Williams, Cacioli, Lewis, and Hebert (along with failure to intervene to prevent such force against Goode and McGivney);[2]
(b) Connecticut common law civil assault claim against Williams, Cacioli, Lewis, and Hebert;
(c) Fourteenth Amendment conditions of confinement claim against all individual defendants (Williams, Cacioli, Lewis, Hebert, Goode, McGivney, and Marmora) regarding failure to permit El-Massri to shower for three days;
(d) Fourteenth Amendment deliberate indifference to serious medical needs against all individual defendants (Williams, Cacioli, Lewis, Hebert, Goode, McGivney, and Marmora) for failure to permit El-Massri to shower for three days; and
(e) failure to supervise or train against Marmora.

Id. All claims regarding an alleged violation of DOC Administrative Directives were dismissed, as were all claims against five other individuals Plaintiff had requested to add as defendants. Id. Subsequently, the Defendants filed their answer to the amended complaint. See Doc. 78.

         On June 21, 2019, El-Massri filed two motions to compel discovery and supporting memoranda. See Doc. 50 ("Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Disclosure"); Doc. 50-1 ("Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Disclosure of Documents"); Doc. 51 ("Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery"); Doc. 51-1 ("Memorandum of Law in Support of Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery Documents"). In these motions, he seeks to compel disclosure of "unredact[ed] training records for all individual defendants," "any records of misconduct within the [Department of Correction] prior to the incident and up to [the] present da[y]," "[a] copy of all in-service training [records] of each individual defendant[] . . . for any state and federal statutes and regulations that must be adhered to in the discharge of official duties as state employees," and "[a] copy of all pre-service training [records] at Maloney CTSD [Center for Training and Staff Development] for all individual defendants for any state and federal statutes and regulations that must be adhered to in the discharge of official duties as state employee[s]." Doc. 50-1, at 8; Doc. 51-1, at 3. The Defendants have objected to both motions on the grounds that the requests are overly broad and seek information that is not relevant to the claims stated in the amended complaint. Doc. 55 ("Defendants' Objection to Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery"); Doc. 56 ("Defendants' Objection to Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery"). The Court resolves both motions in this Ruling.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Standard for Motion to Compel

         "Where a party 'fails to produce documents . . . as requested,' Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 permits '[the] party seeking discovery . . . [to] move for an order compelling an answer, designation, production or inspection.'" In re Aggrenox Antitrust Litig., No. 3:14-CV-572 (SRU), 2017 WL 5885664, at *1 (D. Conn. Nov. 29, 2017) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B)). See also Scott v. Arex, Inc., 124 F.R.D. 39, 40 (D. Conn. 1989) (Where documents "discoverable within the contemplation of Rule 26, Fed. R. Civ. P., . . . are not produced," Rule 37 "permit[s] the party desiring discovery to seek a court order."). "Because 'the Federal Rules . . . are to be construed liberally in favor of discovery,' McCulloch v. Hartford Life & Accident Ins. Co., 223 F.R.D. 26, 30 (D. Conn. 2004), 'the party resisting discovery bears the burden of showing why discovery should be denied,' Cole v. Towers Perrin Forster & Crosby, 256 F.R.D. 79, 80 (D. Conn. 2009) (Smith, J.)." In re Aggrenox Antitrust Litig., 2017 WL 5885664, at *1.

         All "[m]otions relative to discovery," including motions to compel, "are addressed to the discretion of the [district] court." Soobzokov v. CBS, Quadrangle/New York Times Book Co., 642 F.2d 28, 30 (2d Cir. 1981). "Rule 26 vests the trial judge with broad discretion to tailor discovery narrowly and to dictate the sequence of discovery." Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 598 (1998). The discovery orders "will only be reversed if [the district court's] decision constitutes an abuse of discretion." Daval Steel Prods. v. M/V Fakredine, 951 F.2d 1357, 1365 (2d Cir. 1991) ...


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