United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM ORDER RE: ECF NO. 131
MAUREEN P. KELLY CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Kimberlee Rae Carbone (“Plaintiff”), filed this
action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against numerous
individuals - police officers, corrections officers
(including Defendant April Brightshue), and medical personnel
- who were allegedly involved in her arrest and subsequent
strip and cavity searches following a traffic stop on
November 3, 2013. Also named as Defendants are the City of
New Castle and the County of Lawrence.
before the Court Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Directed to
Defendant April Brightshue, ECF No. 131, wherein Plaintiff
seeks an Order compelling Defendant Brightshue to respond to
the following Supplemental Interrogatory and Request for
Please state the name and address of every psychiatrist
and/or psychologist and/or medical doctor and/or counselor
and/or therapist and/or hospital that April Brightshue has
consulted and/or seen and/or received treatment and/or
received therapy and/or been hospitalized at and/or admitted
to, from the period from January 1, 2012 to the present and
provide any and all records regarding the same and/or please
execute/complete and provide the attached authorizations to
obtain said records.
131 ¶ 9. Plaintiff argues that Defendant
Brightshue's psychiatric records are necessary to
generally assess her credibility and, more specifically, to
determine: a) what version of events Brightshue gave to her
treatment providers and whether that version matches the
version of the other Defendants; b) Brightshue's
well-being and capacity to accurately process and/or relay
information; and c) Brightshue's capacity to handle the
stresses of being a corrections officer.
Id. ¶¶ 11-13.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1), the scope of discovery is defined as
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.
regarding the proper scope of discovery under Rule 26, and
the extent to which discovery may be compelled, are matters
consigned to the Court's discretion and judgment.
Wisniewski v. Johns-Manville Corp., 812 F.2d 81, 90
(3d Cir. 1987). This discretion, however, is guided by
certain basic principles. In particular, it is clear that
Rule 26's broad definition reaches only
“nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any
party's claim or defense.” Valid claims of
relevance and privilege therefore restrict the Court's
discretion in ruling on discovery issues. Further, the 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).
instant case, the Court finds not only that Defendant
Brightshue's psychotherapeutic records are privileged but
that Plaintiff has not met her burden of establishing their
relevance. Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has
specifically held that confidential communications between
licensed psychotherapist and psychologists and their patients
during the course of treatment are privileged and protected
from disclosure under Federal Rule of Evidence 501. Jaffe
v. Redmond, 518 U.S. 1 (1996).
addition, Plaintiff's assertions of relevance largely
revolve around her need to assess Brightshue's
credibility. Plaintiff's arguments, however, are based on
deposition testimony made by witnesses and/or other
Defendants regarding matters unrelated to Brightshue or the
strip search she conducted. ECF No. 131 ¶ 8. For
instance, it escapes the Court what relevance
Brightshue's psychotherapeutic records have to the fact
that Officer Dolquist testified that Field Sobriety Tests
were performed on Plaintiff before she was transported to the
Lawrence County Jail when no such tests were performed.
Moreover, Plaintiff had the opportunity to test
Brightshue's credibility and her recollection of events
during her deposition and, should the case proceed to trial,
will, perhaps, have the opportunity to do so again.
the following Order is entered:
NOW, this 9th day of March, 2017, IT IS HEREBY
ORDERED that Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Directed to