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Mendez v. Win

May 17, 2010



Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se with a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In his amended complaint, plaintiff contends that while imprisoned he received inadequate medical care in the diagnosis and treatment of his prostate cancer. Before the court are several motions and requests filed by the parties.

I. Plaintiff's Motion to Quash or Modify Subpoena

Plaintiff challenges the subpoena that was served on him by defendant Basi. The subpoena in question requested the following documents:

All documents & original radiological films, including but not limited to x-ray films, MRIs, CT scans, relating to patient's medical/dental histories; complaints; symptoms; examinations; findings; diagnosis; prognosis; sign-in sheets; photographs; video tapes; treatment; physical therapy; including without limiting the generality of the foregoing, all correspondence including but not limited to other written or graphic material.

The attorney requesting these records has determined that the entirety of the medical information sought is deemed necessary to fully evaluate the claims at issue in this litigation and to fully defend our client.

(Mot. to Quash, Ex. A, Attach. 3.) Plaintiff argues that the documents requested by the subpoena go beyond the issues involved in this litigation and that he has already submitted over 270 pages of his medical file to defendants. Plaintiff requests that the subpoena be modified so that he need only produce the "items related directly to the time period involved and the medical records and items specific to the issues claimed in his Amended Complaint." (Mot. to Quash at 2.)

Defendant argues that a complete set of plaintiff's medical records is needed in order for defendant Basi to assess the merits of the case, to evaluate the alleged damages suffered by plaintiff, to determine if any other events or conditions impacted defendant's medical findings, and to determine if any pre-existing conditions impacted the interpretation of the laboratory results. Specifically, "defendant seeks a complete copy of plaintiff's medical records for the purpose of assessing plaintiff's medical and surgical history as it relates to urological symptoms, urological conditions, and prior PSA results." (Opp'n at 3.) Defendant contends that this information is necessary because a "slightly elevated PSA level does not give a physician enough information to distinguish between benign prostate conditions and cancer. Rather, other conditions, aside from prostate cancer, can and do affect the level of PSA in a patient's blood." (Id.) Because no affidavit attesting to the records produced was submitted with plaintiff's medical records, defendant believes that the records received from plaintiff are incomplete.

Plaintiff did not file a reply to defendant's opposition and plaintiff's motion fails to specify which medical records he seeks to protect from production pursuant to defendant's subpoena. Plaintiff contends that the documents requested by the challenged subpoena are overly broad because the request goes beyond the time period addressed in his amended complaint. However, plaintiff's entire medical history as it may relate to his prostate condition is relevant in this action. Therefore, plaintiff's motion to quash or modify the subpoena seeking his medical records in the custody of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, will be denied.

However, the same cannot be said for defendant's request that all of plaintiff's dental records be produced pursuant to the challenged subpoena. Defendant has advanced no argument as to why plaintiff's dental records would be relevant to his defense. Accordingly, the motion to quash will be granted as to the dental records sought.

II. Defendant's Motion to Modify the Scheduling Order

Defendant Basi requests that the deadline for the filing of dispositive motions, which was set for April 9, 2010, be extended to forty-five days after the court rules on plaintiff's motion to quash or modify subpoena. Plaintiff has filed a statement of non-opposition to defendant's motion. However, on April 9, 2010, defendant Basi filed a motion for summary judgment. Thus, it appears that defendant's motion to modify the scheduling order is no longer necessary. Therefore, the motion will be denied as moot.

III. Plaintiff's Motion for Appointment of Counsel

Plaintiff has requested the appointment of counsel. The United States Supreme Court has ruled that district courts lack authority to require counsel to represent indigent prisoners in § 1983 cases. Mallard v. United States Dist. Court, 490 U.S. 296, 298 (1989). In certain exceptional circumstances, the district court may request the voluntary assistance of counsel pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(1). Terrell v. Brewer, 935 F.2d 1015, 1017 (9th Cir. 1991); Wood v. Housewright, 900 F.2d 1332, 1335-36 (9th Cir. 1990). In the present case, ...

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