The opinion of the court was delivered by: Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly
District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin
[ECF No. 106, 110] MEMORANDUM ORDER
Plaintiff Corey Bracey ("Plaintiff" or "Bracey") has filed a comprehensive Motion to Compel Discovery Pursuant [to] Fed. R. Civ. P. 37 [ECF No. 106], seeking the production of inter alia, his medical records, his inmate disciplinary files, and evidence concerning staffing in his Restricted Housing Unit ("RHU") at the State Correctional Institution at Albion ("SCIAlbion"). In addition, Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Extended Discovery Schedule [ECF No. 110] seeking to extend discovery through December 31, 2012. Defendants have filed a response to Plaintiff's Motion to Compel, arguing that Plaintiff's request is in part premature, that certain of the documents are privileged for valid security reasons and that certain other documents have been produced in other litigation filed against the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections ("DOC") and Defendants should not be compelled to produce the requested documents a second time. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's Motion to Extend Discovery is denied without prejudice and the Motion to Compel is granted in part and denied in part.
The scope of discovery is defined by Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides as follows:
(1) Scope in General. Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense-including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identity and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter. For good cause, the court may order discovery of any matter relevant to the subject matter involved in the action. Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. All discovery is subject to the limitations imposed by Rule 26(b)(2)(C).
Rulings regarding the proper scope of discovery, and the extent to which discovery may be compelled, are matters consigned to the Court's discretion and judgment. It has long been held that decisions relating to the scope of discovery permitted under Rule 26 also rest in the sound discretion of the Court. Wisniewski v. Johns--Manville Corp., 812 F.2d 81, 90 (3d Cir. 1987). This discretion is guided, however, by certain basic principles. Thus, at the outset, it is clear that Rule 26's broad definition reaches only "non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense." Therefore, valid claims of relevance and privilege restrict the Court's discretion in ruling on discovery issues. Furthermore, the scope of discovery permitted by Rule 26 embraces all "relevant information," a concept which is defined in the following terms: "Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence."
A party moving to compel discovery bears the initial burden of proving the relevance of the requested information. Morrison v. Philadelphia Housing Auth., 203 F.R.D. 195, 196 (E.D. Pa. 2001). Once that initial burden is met, "the party resisting the discovery has the burden to establish the lack of relevance by demonstrating that the requested discovery (1) does not come within the broad scope of relevance as defined under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b) (1), or (2) is of such marginal relevance that the potential harm occasioned by discovery would outweigh the ordinary presumption in favor of broad disclosure." In re Urethane Antitrust Litigation, 261 F.R.D. 570, 573 (D. Kan. 2009).
A. Plaintiff's Medical Records.
Plaintiff seeks the production of his medical records to support his claim for damages for injuries sustained as a result of the underlying attacks suffered as a result of Defendants' alleged deliberate indifference. Plaintiff concedes that his request may be deemed premature inasmuch as Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment challenging liability is due by November 1, 2012. Accordingly, Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Medical Records is denied without prejudice to being filed anew should Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment prove unsuccessful.
The Court also notes that a request for an inmate's medical records may be accomplished in accordance with DC-ADM 003, "Release of Information," which must be initiated by submitting Department Form DC-135A, "Inmate Request to Staff" to the Superintendent. The inmate may then review the documents and obtain copies of any documents at his expense; however, charges for the photocopies are made in accordance with the DOC's policies and procedures. Accordingly, should Plaintiff renew his motion to compel with regard to his own medical records, in the absence of allegations that he has complied with DOC procedures to review and obtain the records at his own expense, Plaintiff's motion to compel production of his own medical records will be denied. See, Whetstone v. Bohinski, No. 08-cv-2306, 2010 WL 785246 *2 (M.D. Pa. 2010), Bull v. U.S., 143 F. App'x 468, 469 (3d Cir. 2005).
B. Plaintiff's Inmate File.
Plaintiff seeks the production of his inmate institutional file from the date of his transfer to SCI-Albion on June 29, 2010, through his departure on May 17, 2011, to include Plaintiff's "DC 14, 15, 16 and 17 forms." Plaintiff contends that "these files will show Plaintiff was non-problematic, but after the incident he received an onslaught of falsified misconducts by Harmon and other adverse action." [ECF No. 106, p.4]. Plaintiff alleges that all disciplinary infractions after his complaints were retaliatory and his institutional file will establish the temporal connection between his complaints and subsequent retaliatory discipline.
In balancing Plaintiff's need for the records, there are specific security concerns that militate against full production. The records Plaintiff seeks comprise an inmate's "Cumulative Adjustment Record" and contain personal observations and interactions by unit managers, counselors, mental health professionals, and other DOC staff, including treatment or incarceration plans regarding the inmate. Plaintiff acknowledges that similar requested information from an earlier time period has been provided in Bracey v. Price, C.A. No. 09-1662, one of three cases filed by Plaintiff currently pending against DOC defendants in this Court. However, production of the requested documents in C.A. 09-1662 action was limited in time, and subject to substantial redaction of confidential information to eliminate well-founded security concerns regarding the potential for retaliation against specific staff members and possible manipulation of the conditions of Plaintiff's confinement. See, Bracey v. Price, C.A. No. 09-1662 at ECF No. 75; Bailey v. McMahon, No. 07-2238, 2012 WL 1246147 *9 (M.D. Pa. April 12, 2012)(information in DC-14, DC-15 and similar reports typically contain ...