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Drummer v. Corizon, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

May 8, 2019

LAWRENCE DRUMMER, JR., Plaintiff,
v.
CORIZON, LLC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Lawrence Drummer, Jr.'s motion to compel. ECF No. 88. The Corizon Defendants[1] oppose the motion. ECF No. 89. Upon due consideration, the motion to compel will be granted in part and denied in part.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff filed this pro se prisoner civil rights action on July 18, 2016. ECF No. 1. On November 10, 2016, the Court granted Plaintiff's request to appoint counsel, and on January 2, 2018, counsel filed an amended complaint. ECF No. 54. The amended complaint alleges that on August 6, 2015, following his arrest by the City of St. Louis police department, Plaintiff presented to Barnes-Jewish Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a torn right shoulder rotator cuff and was told that it would require corrective surgery. Plaintiff alleges that between August 10 and August 25, 2015, while Plaintiff was incarcerated at the City of St. Louis Medium Security Institution (“MSI”), he did not receive any medical treatment or medication. He alleges that he complained to facility personnel, nurses, and doctors about the excruciating pain that he suffered in his right shoulder, which was causing pain into his chest. Plaintiff contends that he submitted several health services requests for his shoulder pain and did not obtain the proper medication to control his pain. Thus, in his amended complaint, Plaintiff brings claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Corizon Defendants for their deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical needs and seeks monetary damages and declaratory and injunctive relief.

         As litigation progressed, the parties sought multiple extensions of Case Management Order deadlines due to delays related to written discovery and depositions. On March 15, 2019, the Court entered an Eighth Amended Case Management Order, which specifically notes that no further extensions of the deadlines would be granted. ECF No. 87. On April 12, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant motion to compel through appointed counsel, claiming that over 30 of the Corizon Defendants' discovery responses were deficient. The Corizon Defendants collectively oppose the motion to compel. As noted by Defendants, in this matter Plaintiff has collectively served 250 interrogatories and over 500 requests for production of documents to the Defendants in this case. The Court has carefully reviewed the voluminous briefing on the issues and will address the disputes by subject matter.

         DISCUSSION

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide for broad, but not unlimited, discovery. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b) provides:

Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case, considering 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 the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

         This is a liberal standard, but “[s]ome threshold showing of relevance must be made before parties are required to open wide the doors of discovery and to produce a variety of information which does not reasonably bear upon the issues in the case.” Hofer v. Mack Trucks, Inc., 981 F.2d 377, 380 (8th Cir. 1992). “Upon a showing by the requesting party that the discovery is relevant, the burden is on the party resisting discovery to explain why discovery should be limited.” Morrison v. Hale, No. 4:17-CV-875-NAB, 2018 WL 1792208, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 16, 2018) (citation omitted).

         1. Meet and confer regarding medical records

         Before addressing the specific discovery disputes in Plaintiff's motion, the Court will address the issue raised by Plaintiff regarding the quality of his medical records. Plaintiff complains that portions of the medical records are indecipherable. However, it is unclear to the Court whether the records are indecipherable due to errors in copying or indecipherable handwriting. Accordingly, the parties are directed to meet and confer on this issue. If the errors are due to copying, Corizon is instructed to provide Plaintiff with a properly-copied set. If the handwriting is indecipherable, the parties will discuss solutions to obtaining the information contained therein.

         2. Statements made by Plaintiff and Defendant Corizon (Int. Nos. 4 and 6 directed to Corizon)

         Interrogatories Nos. 4 and 6 directed to Corizon request information about statements made by Plaintiff and Corizon. Corizon objects on the basis that the interrogatories are overly broad, vague, and not limited in time and scope. Subject to the objection, Corizon states that it is unaware of any recordings or documentation of such statements other than those found in Plaintiff's grievance records, which Corizon produced. Plaintiff maintains that these answers are incomplete because Corizon failed to answer the subparts of the interrogatories with respect to the grievance records, and he takes issue with Corizon's response subject to an objection.

         Following the 1993 amendment to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 33, defendants may object and answer an interrogatory to the extent that it is not objectionable. Whitley v. McClain, No. 4:13-CV-994-CEJ, 2014 WL 1400178, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 10, 2014); see Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(b)(3) (“Each interrogatory must, to the extent it is not objected to, be answered separately and fully in writing under oath.”). Further, the interrogated party may refer to records when answering an interrogatory provided that the interrogated party specifies the records from which the answer may be derived or ascertained. Budget Rent-A-Car of Mo., Inc. v. Hertz Corp., 55 F.R.D. 354, 357 (W.D. Mo. 1972); see also Whitley, 2014 WL 1400178 at *2 (holding that the defendants' answer generally referring the plaintiff to documents produced, including a police report, was adequate).

         Here, Plaintiff was referred generally to the grievance records, which may include statements made by Plaintiff and Corizon. This is sufficient. To the extent Plaintiff seeks the contact information of individuals named in the medical and grievance records, Corizon maintains that those parties are represented for the purposes of this litigation, and thus, any attempt to contact them should be made to defense counsel. Lastly, although Corizon's objections are very general, Corizon properly answered subject to the objection. Plaintiff's motion to compel as to statements made by Plaintiff and Corizon will be denied.

         3. Individuals involved in medical decisions (Int. No. 17 directed to Corizon)

         Plaintiff seeks information regarding all individuals (including their titles, dates of termination if terminated, last known address, and date of birth) involved in certain decisions regarding Plaintiff's healthcare while incarcerated. These medical decisions include, inter alia, the decision not to send Plaintiff for follow-up treatment at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in August 2015 and the decision to deny requests for shoulder surgery from August 2015 to the present. In response, Corizon referred Plaintiff to the medical records. It also objected to providing the residential addresses of any individuals for security and safety reasons.

         Plaintiff takes issue with Corizon's response because it fails to specifically identify which medical records are responsive to the interrogatory. Further, Plaintiff complains that certain portions of the medical records are largely indecipherable.

         Here, the information sought by Plaintiff is relevant to his claims, and, generally, Corizon may refer Plaintiff to medical records if information responsive to the request is contained in the medical records. See Toney v. Hakala, No. 4:10-CV-2056-JAR, 2012 WL 3656360, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 24, 2012) (holding that reference to medical records “consisting of approximately 1, 082 pages” was acceptable). However, to the extent that Corizon is aware of particular individuals who made decisions regarding the treatment of Plaintiff's shoulder, it shall identify those individuals. To the extent Plaintiff seeks residential addresses, Defendants may provide the information requested under the designation “for attorneys' eyes only.” See Zink v. Lombardi, No. 2:12-CV-4209-NKL, 2013 WL 11768304, at *2 (W.D. Mo. May 31, 2013) (holding that providing the protocol during executions under seal for attorneys' eyes only was sufficient to address security concerns).

         If Plaintiff believes that individuals other than those listed by Corizon made decisions regarding the treatment of Plaintiff's shoulder, Plaintiff may identify them and provide the list to Corizon. If Plaintiff is unable to decipher the names from the medical records, the parties are directed to meet and confer and attempt to resolve the matter.

         Once Plaintiff provides Corizon with a list of names, Corizon will provide the information requested under the designation “for attorneys' eyes only.” Alternatively, the parties may agree to a protective order, as appropriate.

         4. Prior lawsuits, grievances, or complaints (Int. Nos. 24, 25 directed to Corizon; RFP Nos. 41 directed to Corizon; RFP Nos. ...


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