United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville Division
MEMORANDUN OPINION AND ORDER
Whalm, Magistrate Judge United States District Court.
the Court is the motion of Plaintiff Tabatha Lynn Shadburne
(“Shadburne”), individually and on behalf of all
others similarly situated, to compel discovery responses from
Defendants Bullitt County, Kentucky, and Martha Knox, Bullitt
County Jailer (collectively referred to as
“Defendants”). (DN 25). Shadburne alternatively
seeks discovery sanctions against Defendants in the same
motion. (Id.). Defendants have filed a response in
opposition. (DN 26). Shadburne has filed a reply. (DN 27).
These matters are ripe for review.
Lynn Shadburne was arrested on December 8, 2016, on a bench
warrant issued by Bullitt County Family Court for failure to
appear in a domestic violence case. (DN 1, at ¶ 12).
Upon arrest, Ms. Shadburne was taken to the Bullitt County
Detention Center and was strip-searched at booking.
(Id.). As a result of these events, Ms. Shadburne
brought the instant action against Defendants Bullitt County,
Kentucky, and Martha Knox, Bullitt County Jailer, alleging
that the strip search violated her civil rights under 42
U.S.C. § 1983, including her rights under the Fourth,
Fifth, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
(Id. at ¶¶ 15-17). Shadburne also claims
that Defendants' actions were negligent, grossly
negligent, and constituted intentional infliction of mental
and emotional distress. (Id. at ¶¶ 18-21).
Shadburne brings this action in her individual capacity and
also as a class action under Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 on behalf of
“all persons arrested for minor offenses, or no
offenses at all, who were required by the Defendants . . . to
remove their clothing for a visual inspection upon admission
to the Jail despite the absence of any reasonable suspicion
that they were carrying weapons or contraband.”
(Id. at ¶¶ 1, 4-10).
14, 2017, Shadburne served discovery upon the Defendants,
and, one month later, Defendants responded to such discovery
requests. (DN 17). Shadburne felt Defendants' answers
were “non-responsive” and, as a result, sent
Defendants a letter attempting to resolve the issue. (DN
25-3). Defendants responded to Shadburne's letter,
explaining why they would not withdraw their objections to
Shadburne's discovery requests. (DN 25-4).
Shadburne's continued dissatisfaction with
Defendants' answers led her to file the instant motion to
compel. (DN 25).
motion specifically objects to Defendants' responses to
Request for Production of Documents 1, Interrogatory Nos. 2,
3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9, and Requests for Admission Nos. 2, 3,
4, 9, and 15. Defendants, in response, submit that their
discovery answers are complete and non-evasive. (DN 26).
courts have wide discretion in dealing with discovery
matters. See S.S. v. E. Ky. Univ., 532 F.3d 445, 451
(6th Cir. 2008); Chrysler Corp. v. Fedders Corp.,
643 F.2d 1229, 1240 (6th Cir. 1981). The “scope of
discovery” encompasses “any nonprivileged matter
that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and
proportional to the needs of the case[.]” Fed.R.Civ.P.
26(b)(1). Relevance is to be construed broadly to include
“any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could
lead to other matter that could bear on” any
party's claim or defense. Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v.
Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351, 98 S.Ct. 2380, 57 L.Ed.2d
253 (1978) (citation omitted). In analyzing proportionality,
the Court must consider the need for the information sought
based upon “the importance of the issues at stake in
the action, the amount in controversy, the parties'
relative access to relevant information, the parties'
resources, the importance of discovery in resolving the
issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed
discovery outweighs its likely benefit.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
Rule of Civil Procedure 37 allows a party to move for an
order compelling disclosure or discovery when “a party
fails to answer an interrogatory submitted under Rule
33” or “fails to produce documents . . . as
requested under Rule 34.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(iii),
(iv). Under this Rule, an “evasive or incomplete
disclosure, answer, or response must be treated as a failure
to disclose, answer, or respond.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
37(a)(4). The party seeking discovery bears the burden of
proving that a discovery response is inadequate. Equal
Rights Center v. Post Props, Inc., 246 F.R.D. 29, 32
Requests for Production of Documents
for Production of Documents No. 1
Request for Production of Documents No. 1 stated:
“[p]lease produce a complete version of the rules,
regulations, and policies of the Bullitt County Detention
Center (which, according to the open records request
previously provided, would seem to be 129 pages).” (DN
25-2). Defendants originally objected to the request as
overbroad and burdensome in that it seeks documents unrelated
to Shadburne's allegations that her rights were violated
when she was strip-searched. (Id.). Defendants also
explained that they previously provided Shadburne with the
Jail's policy on strip searches from the Policy and
Procedure Manual because it is the subject matter of her
now asserts that she is entitled to discovery of the entire
Jail Policy and Procedure Manual (“the Jail
Manual”) since her claims extend beyond the strip
search, in that she also alleges she was improperly detained
despite having met the conditions of bond release. (DN 25-1,
at pp. 2-4). In an attempt to resolve this dispute,
Defendants offered to provide a full copy of the Jail Manual
under an agreed protective order since “matters
contained [within] affect the safety and security of the
jail, its staff, and inmates.” (DN 25-3). But because
Shadburne believes the Jail Manual is a public record, and
Defendants have not shown how its publication would affect
the safety and security of the Jail, its staff, and inmates,
she rejected the Defendants' compromise.
inquiry here is twofold. First, should Defendants be required
to produce the entire Jail Manual? Second, if so, should the
Jail Manual be provided under a protective order as requested
by the Defendants? As for the first question, the Court
agrees with Shadburne that additional portions of the Jail
Manual could be responsive to the factual allegations in her
Complaint. Specifically, any section discussing bonding
procedures could be relevant for Shadburne's allegations
that the Jail was aware she had $350 on her person to
immediately make bond with at the time of her arrest and,
therefore, knew she would not be housed at the Jail but still
performed a strip search. (DN 1, at ¶ 12). Because
relevance is to be construed broadly and other portions of
the Jail manual could bear on Shadburne's claims, the
Court finds Defendants should be required to produce the Jail
Manual in its entirety.
on to the second question, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26
provides that a “court may, for good cause, issue an
order to protect a party or person from annoyance,
embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). A motion for 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.” Id. The parties here clearly
attempted to resolve the dispute by exchanging written
correspondence before seeking the Court's
assistance. (See DN 25-3; DN 25-4). The
question that remains is whether Defendants have established
good cause for protection of the Jail Manual.
assert that public release of their policies and procedures
could affect the safety and security of the Jail, especially
if it were shared with inmates. (DN 16, at p. 2). This
Manual, Defendants explain, includes “sections related
to weapons and their storage, transport procedures, and
location of keys” and “[c]ommon sense dictates
that this information should not be made available to the
public” because of the risk that such information would
be shared with the individuals incarcerated at the Jail.
(Id. at n.1).
reasoning is compelling. Federal courts have repeatedly found
good cause to limit discovery or disclosure of information
implicating the safety and security of prisons and jails.
See Fourhorn v. City & Cnty. of Denver, 261
F.R.D. 564, 569, (D. Col. 2009) (“Ample case law
addressing issues relating to jail or prison security and
safety concerns reflects a broad policy against Court
interference in matters which affect those concerns.”)
(citing Thornburgh v. Abbott, 490 U.S. 401, 415, 109
S.Ct. 1874, 104 L.Ed.2d 549 (1989)); see also Robinson v.
Adams, No. 1:08-cv-01380-AWI-BAM PC, 2012 WL 912746, at
*2-3 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 16, 2012) (issuing protective order for
documents containing information which implicated the safety
and security of the prison).
despite the presumption in favor of public access, the Court
finds here that good cause has been shown to permit the
designation of the Jail Policy and Procedures Manual as
confidential. The Jail Manual shall be produced and
maintained pursuant to the terms of a protective order.
Defendants are directed to file a proposed protective order
with the Court, indicating that the documents shall be marked
as “Confidential” and shall not be disclosed to
unauthorized individuals or used for any purpose other than
the preparation of the case.
No. 2 seeks “all reasons and justifications, if any,
for why the Bullitt County Detention Center strip searched
the Plaintiff.” (DN 25-2, at p. 2). Defendants objected
to this Interrogatory as duplicative and burdensome because
this information was previously provided to Shadburne.
Without waiving that objection, Defendants went on to state:
Plaintiff was brought to the Bullitt County Detention Center
in a van with six other detainees/arrestees who were either
returning from court to the jail or had been committed to
custody by the judge following a court appearance. Plaintiff
was then detained for the purpose of processing and then
strip searched prior to being placed in a holding cell where
another inmate was being held. Once it was Plaintiff's
turn to be booked, she was called out of the holding cell for
purposes of the booking process by utilizing the Jail Tracker
program. Plaintiff's strip search prior to her detention
in the holding cell occurred pursuant to 501 KAR
3:120(3)(b)(3) which provides that ‘A prisoner may be
strip searched only on reasonable suspicion that is based
upon the existence of objective information that may predict
the likelihood of the presence of a weapon, drugs, or other
item of contraband concealed on a particular prisoner.
Reasonable suspicion may be based upon one (1) or more of the
following examples: . . . (3) . . . after transport from or
through an area to which the public may have access.'
(Id.). This response is deficient, according to
Shadburne, because Defendants do not state how the
interrogatory is duplicative and burdensome and because
“baldly quoting a law, without stating how the law
applied to the Plaintiff - when it clearly does not - is not
an answer.” (DN 25-1, at pp. 4-5). Defendants respond
that this interrogatory is duplicative because Defendants
previously provided this information to Shadburne through
their Motion for Summary Judgment and supporting affidavits.
clear from Defendants' response to Interrogatory No. 2,
and additionally from Defendants' Motion for Summary
Judgement and the affidavits submitted therewith, that the
Bullitt County Detention Center strip-searched Shadburne
because she was being placed in a holding cell with another
inmate while waiting to be booked. (DN 7-1, at p. 6; DN 7-2;
DN 25-2, at p. 2). Defendants believe that KAR 3:120(3)(b)(3)
justifies their strip-search of Shadburne on ...