United States District Court, N.D. Mississippi
M. VIRDEN, U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the court on the motion of the plaintiff for
leave to obtain discovery purportedly related to defendant
Ashley Atkinson's defense of qualified immunity.
See Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss or, Alternatively for
Summ. J. at Doc. #15. Specifically, plaintiff seeks to
require that each defendant respond to twenty-seven (27)
requests for admission, four (4) requests for production, and
four (4) interrogatories. Doc. #18.
reasons discussed in detail below, the motion is denied with
the right to be re-urged, provided plaintiff does so in a
manner that complies with the legal requisites of such
discovery requests within five (5) business days hereof.
Standards and Analysis
court set out in its  Order, all discovery is stayed
pending a ruling on a motion raising an immunity defense.
Webb v. Livingston, 618 Fed.Appx. 201 (5th Cir.
2015). Nevertheless, even where a defendant has asserted an
immunity defense, the court may permit limited,
immunity-related discovery but only if further
factual development is necessary to ascertain the
availability of that defense. Backe v. LeBlanc, 691
F.3d 645, 648 (5th Cir. 2012).
the Fifth Circuit has established a careful procedure under
which a district court may defer its qualified immunity
ruling if further factual development is necessary.
Backe, 691 F.3d at 648. First, the court must find
that the plaintiff's pleadings assert facts which, if
true, would overcome the defense of qualified immunity.
Id. If, thereafter, the court remains unable to rule
on the immunity defense, it may issue a discovery order
“narrowly tailored to uncover only those facts needed
to rule on the immunity claim.” Backe, 691
F.3d 645, 648 (citing Lion Boulos v. Wilson, 834
F.2d 504, 507 (5th Cir. 1987)). “Open-ended requests -
to uncover any facts, as opposed to specific questions of
fact, that may be helpful to [the plaintiff's] version of
events - fail to advance the second step of the
‘careful procedure' set forth in Backe,
Wicks, and Lion Boulos…”
Hutcheson v. Dallas Cnty., Tex., No.
3:17-cv-2021-BN, 2019 WL 1957997, at 3 (N.D. Tex. May 2,
2019) (citing Backe v. LeBlanc, 691 F.3d 645, 648
(5th Cir. 2012)).
any motion for leave to conduct immunity-related discovery
must include: (1) the specific interrogatories, if any, that
she proposes; (2) a list of the specific documents or
specific categories of documents, if any, that she wants;
and (3) an explanation of why this discovery is
necessary to enable her to respond to the specific immunity
issues raised in the motion. Woolum v. City of
Dallas, 2019 WL 6619320 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 5, 2019).
plaintiff herein has provided the court the specific
discovery requests she intends to serve, she has not (1)
explained why those requests are necessary to enable her to
respond to the immunity issues raised in the pending motion;
(2) identified the questions of fact that the discovery
should be narrowly tailored to address; nor (3) recounted for
the court how her factual allegations overcome qualified
proposed discovery requests also far exceed the scope of
discovery allowed prior to the court's resolution of a
qualified immunity defense. For example, the requests are
addressed broadly to all defendants and do not, in some
cases, even concern the individual defendant, Atkinson, whose
qualified immunity motion to dismiss or for summary judgment
is before the court. Interrogatory Number 3 is a classic
open-ended request providing: “If you contend that any
person, entity or thing contributed to, caused the incident
injuries and/or losses described in the Complaint, state the
factual basis for your contention that the person, entity, or
thing contributed to cause the instant injuries, and/or
losses described in the complaint; identify by name, address,
and telephone number each person who has knowledge or claims
to have knowledge of any such facts; and state the name and
address of any expert you expect to use to support these
contentions.” Doc. # 18 at 12.
other respects, the interrogatories are unintelligible. For
example, Interrogatory Number 2 reads: “Please set
forth the version of Linda Berkeley's name and Cordova,
Tennessee address was not included or removed from the list
of record owners that the city of Oxford, Mississippi and
Lafayette County were required to provide notice of the
redemption rights.” Doc. # 18 at 11-12.
proposed request for production of documents are equally
overly broad. Request Number 3, for example, asked that all
of the defendants produce a list of all tax deeds issued
between August 28, 2009 through August 28, 2019. Doc. # 18 at
the twenty-seven requests for admissions fare no better.
Request 22, for example, states: “Please admit that
Sherry Wall was and is Chancery Clerk during all material
times referenced in the Complaint, DE1.” Doc. #18 at 6.
What such an assertion has to do with defendant
Atkinson's claim of qualified immunity is not evident and
no explanation is offered.
the motion for discovery is denied. It may be re-urged but
only upon submission of a motion, within five (5) business
days, setting forth narrowly tailored discovery requests and
an explanation, with respect to each, of the specific
information outlined herein.