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McAllister v. Weikel

United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania

June 29, 2015

JOSHUA WEIKEL, et al., Defendants.


CHRISTOPHER C. CONNER, Chief District Judge.

Presently ripe for disposition is plaintiff's motion (Doc. 51) to compel discovery. For the reasons set forth below, the motion will be denied.

I. Standard of Review

A party who has received evasive or incomplete discovery responses may seek a court order compelling disclosure or discovery of the materials sought. See FED. R. CIV. P. 37(a). The moving party must demonstrate the relevance of the information sought to a particular claim or defense. The burden then shifts to the opposing party, who must demonstrate in specific terms why a discovery request does not fall within the broad scope of discovery or is otherwise privileged or improper. Goodman v. Wagner, 553 F.Supp. 255, 258 (E.D. Pa. 1982).

Generally, courts afford considerable latitude in discovery in order to ensure that litigation proceeds with "the fullest possible knowledge of the issues and facts before trial." Hickman v. Taylor, 349 U.S. 495, 501 (1947). The procedural rule defining the scope and limits of discovery provides that "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense.... Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(1). "[A]ll relevant material is discoverable unless an applicable evidentiary privilege is asserted. The presumption that such matter is discoverable, however, is defeasible." Pearson v. Miller, 211 F.2d 57, 65 (3d Cir. 2000). Furthermore, the court may limit discovery where: "(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the action; or (iii) the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit, considering the needs of the case, the amount in controversy, the parties' resources, the importance of the issues at stake in the action, and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues." FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(2)(C).

II. Discussion

Plaintiff alleges that he was retaliated against for filing grievances and making verbal complaints. (Doc. 14, ¶¶ 10-11, 23). Specifically, on January 31, 2012, defendants Hoose, Frankenstein, Weikel and Peters came to his cell and issued him "false write ups." (Id. at ¶¶ 10-11). He was also purportedly subjected to two separate incidents of excessive force on January 31, 2012, during which corrections officers banged his head off a cell wall, struck him in the face and punched, kicked and elbowed him. (Id. at ¶¶ 13, 17). As a result, his three front teeth were chipped and he was rendered unconscious. (Id. at ¶¶16, 17). The court evaluates the motion to compel with this claim in mind.

Plaintiff's motion to compel consists of seven (7) separate requests. (Doc. 51). The court will review the discovery requests and responses in seriatim.

A. Request for medical and dental records

Plaintiff initially requests that the court order defendants to produce his medical and dental records pertaining to the January 31, 2012 incident. (Doc. 51, p. 1; Doc. 52, pp. 1-2). In response, defendants assert that plaintiff should request the medical records directly from PrimeCare Medical. (Doc. 54, p. 1). Defendants do not necessarily object to plaintiff's access to his own medical records. Rather, they appear to urge the court to direct plaintiff to comply with proper procedures to request medical records.

In Bull, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found no error in the district court's denial of the inmate-plaintiff's motion to compel access to his medical records. Bull v. United States, 143 Fed.App'x 468 (3d Cir. 2005). The court explained that the inmate's "request for medical records from outside medical services contractors, none of whom are parties to this suit, had to be submitted directly to those contractors." Bull, 143 Fed.App'x at 470.

Similarly, PrimeCare Medical is a contracted medical services provider and is not presently a defendant in this action. Plaintiff is entitled to access his own medical records, however his request for medical records should be submitted directly to PrimeCare Medical. There is no evidence that plaintiff has yet executed any request forms. Accordingly, the court will deny plaintiff's motion seeking to compel defendants to produce medical records from an outside medical contractor.

B. Request for prison transport procedures

Plaintiff next requests "[t]he policy and regulations on the transport of unruly inmates." (Doc. 51, pp. 1-2; Doc. 52, pp. 2-3). Plaintiff asserts that defendants intentionally transported him to a different unit without a camera, in violation of prison policy. (Doc. 52, pp. 2-3). Defendants object to this request based on ...

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