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Robert Willis v. R. Weeks

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


July 5, 2011

ROBERT WILLIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
R. WEEKS, DEFENDANT.

ORDER

Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding pro se. Plaintiff seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Pending before the court is plaintiff's motion to quash.

In his motion, plaintiff asks the court to quash a civil subpoena issued by defense counsel commanding Litigation Coordinator Andrew Pitoniack at California Men's Colony to produce for inspection and copying "Any and all of Plaintiff Robert Willis' mental and psychiatric records from September 2002 to the present." Plaintiff argues that his mental and psychiatric records are privileged. He also argues that Mr. Pitoniack is not a party to this action, and that the subpoena in question would require Litigation Coordinator Pitoniack to travel more than 100 miles.

In opposition to plaintiff's motion, defense counsel argues that plaintiff has put his mental health at issue in this action by claiming that he suffers from mental and emotional distress and needs to take psycho-tropic medications as a result of the defendant's alleged conduct. Defense counsel also argues that plaintiff has put his mental health at issue by relying on that condition to justify his late-filing of this action.

The court must quash or modify a subpoena that requires the disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, or subjects a person to undue burden. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 45(c)(3)(A). Here, the undersigned finds that plaintiff's mental health history is relevant and that plaintiff has waived his right to assert privilege by putting his mental health at issue in this civil action. As an initial matter, plaintiff claims that defendant Weeks' conduct on September 21, 2002, has caused him post-traumatic stress disorder and forced him to undergo mental health treatment and take psycho-tropic medications. Plaintiff's allegations in this regard go to the heart of any potential damages he may recover if successful in this action.

Moreover, the court previously denied defendant's motion to dismiss on statute of limitations grounds because the court determined that plaintiff had presented sufficient evidence that he was "incapable of caring for his property or transacting business from 1996 to at least July 1, 2008" as a result of one of his mental health conditions. The court denied defendant's motion to dismiss on statute of limitations grounds without prejudice to the defendant reasserting the statute of limitations defense in a motion for summary judgment. In plaintiff's recently-filed motion for summary judgment, he argues that his complaint is timely and that he is entitled to equitable tolling of the statute of limitations because of his mental health status. In support of his argument, plaintiff relies on portions of his prison mental health records. It would be improper for the court to allow plaintiff to have the benefit of his mental health records without giving defense counsel access to the same.

Finally, to the extent that plaintiff has asserted an objection to the subpoena on the grounds that the requested production is unduly burdensome, he lacks standing to do so because he is not the party bearing the burden of production. To date, Litigation Coordinator Pitoniack has not filed any objections based upon the burden of the production called for by the subpoena.

Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to quash (Doc. No. 28) is denied.

20110705

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