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Culver v. Specter

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

September 30, 2014

BRETT T. CULVER, Plaintiff,
JAMES SPECTER, et al., Defendants.


YVETTE KANE, District Judge.

Pending before the Court in the above civil rights action filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983 are motions for summary judgment filed by Plaintiff Brett Culver. Also pending are discovery-related motions submitted by the parties. For the reasons that follow, the summary judgment motions will be denied without prejudice to renew and supplement following the conclusion of discovery.

I. Background

Plaintiff initiated this civil rights action on November 29, 2011, alleging that while confined at the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy (SCI-Mahanoy), he was assaulted by another inmate. Plaintiff alleges that he was assaulted by another inmate on December 3, 2009, because Defendants Muick and Marhelko told the inmate that Plaintiff had made complaints about him. Plaintiff claims that following the assault he was denied adequate medical care for a broken jaw and was subjected to medical malpractice. Following the Court's ruling on motions to dismiss claims, the following Defendant remain: Correctional Officers Muick and Marhelko; Dr. Robert Moczulski, dentist; Health Care Administrator Cerullo; Drs. Lisiak and Gustitus; and Mr. Stantis, Food Services Supervisor. Dr. James Specter, a private practice oral surgeon contracted by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to provide services to SCI-Mahanoy.[1]

All Defendants have filed answers to the claims remaining in the complaint, and discovery has been ongoing.[2]

On December 31, 2013, Plaintiff filed summary judgment motions against Defendant Specter (Doc. No. 214) and the remaining Corrections Defendants (Doc. No. 216). In support of the motions, he filed briefs and exhibits consisting of photographs and copies of Final Appeal Decisions from the Secretary's Office of Inmate Grievances & Appeals. (Doc. Nos. 215, 217, 218 and 219.) Defendants have opposed the motions.

On January 6, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion seeking to compel medical records from a non-party, Dr. Chung. (Doc. No. 221.) He also filed a similar motion seeking a court order to obtain a criminal trial transcript from the Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas. (Doc. No. 228.) On February 3, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion to stay these proceedings until such time as Defendants comply with discovery requests served on them. (Doc. No. 231.) The Corrections Defendants have opposed this motion. (Doc. No. 237.)

On March 11, 2014, the Court addressed a motion to compel discovery against Defendant Specter filed by Plaintiff on August 21, 2013. Plaintiff challenged five (5) responses by Specter to a Request for the Production of Documents. While the Court found most of Specter's responses to be acceptable, Plaintiff was afforded fifteen (15) days within which to serve more narrow requests regarding other lawsuits filed against Specter involving the improper treatment of a broken jaw. Plaintiff was also permitted to seek clarification with respect to alleged illegible handwriting by Specter in medical records he received pursuant to discovery requests. (Doc. No. 245.)

On April 4, 2014, Corrections Defendants moved for an enlargement of time within which to conduct discovery due to Plaintiff's failure to respond to Interrogatories and Requests for the Production of Documents. (Doc. No. 248.) On May 30, 2014, Corrections Defendants filed a motion to compel with respect to these discovery requests. Although Plaintiff had since provided responses to the outstanding requests, Defendants claim that some of the responses are incomplete. Plaintiff opposes this motion. (Doc. No. 258.)

II. Discussion

A. Discovery Issues

1. Plaintiff's requests for court orders compelling discovery from non-parties

Plaintiff has filed two motions wherein he seeks to obtain documents from non-parties. He first seeks a court order compelling Dr. William Chung to provide him with all medical information pertaining to his treatment of Plaintiff. Plaintiff claims that Chung is an oral surgeon who was retained by the DOC to evaluate and treat him following the treatment he received from Defendant Specter. According to Plaintiff, he has sent Dr. Chung three (3) requests for his medical records. Along with his motion, he submits a notarized Authorization for Health Information Disclosure form. (Doc. No. 221.) It is unclear as to whether this form was also sent to Dr. Chung. Plaintiff claims that these medical records are highly relevant to his inadequate medical care claims against Defendants.

Plaintiff has also filed a motion seeking to compel records from the Schuylkill County Court of Common Pleas. Specifically, Plaintiff seeks a copy of the transcript from the criminal trial conducted against the inmate who assaulted him. (Doc. No. 228.) Plaintiff contends that the inmate was found guilty, and that during the trial there was testimony with respect to the motivating reasons for the ...

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