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David Smith v. Kiesz

April 3, 2013

DAVID SMITH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
KIESZ, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Carolyn K. Delaney United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Plaintiff, a state prisoner, proceeds pro se and in forma pauperis with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that defendant, a nurse employed at California State Prison- Solano ("CSP-Solano"), was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical needs when she failed to treat him for symptoms of "heartstroke" on July 22, 2010 while at the medical clinic. (Dkt. No. 1 at 3.) Three motions to compel discovery are pending.

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure permit discovery of "any non-privileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense -- including the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of any documents or other tangible things and the identify and location of persons who know of any discoverable matter." Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). "Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id.

I. Plaintiff's Motions to Compel (Dkt. Nos. 28, 29)

On October 24, 2012, plaintiff served defendant with one set of interrogatories and one set of requests for production of documents. Defendant responded to plaintiff's requests with objections and responses which plaintiff alleges are evasive and incomplete. Plaintiff attempted unsuccessfully to informally resolve the discovery dispute. He now moves to compel defendant to answer fully interrogatories number 1, 2, 9 and 10, and to produce documents responsive to his requests for production of documents number 2, 4 and 5.

A. Document Requests 1. Request Number 2

Plaintiff's request number 2 seeks "Any notes, documents, letters, memorandums, files, records, record books, logs, grievance reports or written communication concerning complaints against defendant Kiesz." (Dkt. No. 28 at 12.) Defendant objected as follows:

The request is overly broad, compound, and seeks documents not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. In addition, the request is vague and ambiguous with respect to the term "concerning complaints against defendant Kiesz." Kiesz further objects on the ground that the request seeks information that is protected from disclosure by state and federal privacy laws. Kiesz will not respond to this request. (Dkt. No. 28 at 16.)

Defendant's objections on the grounds of overbreadth and ambiguity are reasonable; however, defendant must still produce relevant documents in her possession, custody and control. Plaintiff clarified this request in his motion to compel, stating that he seeks documents pertaining to Kiesz's "mistreatment of prisoners" which would be "relevant to the claim of deliberate indifference to a medical need," whether or not those documents are part of Kiesz's personnel records. (Dkt. No. 28 at 4.) Defendant asserts that plaintiff's motion to compel should be denied because plaintiff fails to address defendant's objections on the grounds of overbreadth and ambiguity. (Dkt. No. 31 at 3.) Because plaintiff is a pro se, incarcerated person, this court will not hold him to the same standard to which it might hold an attorney. It is sufficiently clear that certain documents responsive to this request, if they exist, are relevant, notwithstanding the overbreadth and ambiguity of the original request. Accordingly, plaintiff's motion to compel disclosure of documents responsive to request number 2 will be granted to a limited extent, as follows, and subject to the protective order set forth herein.

Defendant is ordered to produce relevant documents, including documents from defendant's personnel file, during the time period of five years prior to the filing of plaintiff's complaint up to the present date, concerning either (1) allegations that defendant was deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of inmates; or (2) staff misconduct involving dishonesty. Any documents disclosed are subject to a protective order that (1) limits the use of the records and information to the instant action (see Kelly v. City of San Jose, 114 F.R.D. 653, 660 (N.D. Cal. 1987)); and (2) requires defense counsel to redact any and all identifying personal information which might pose a security risk if released, including, but not limited to, the defendant's home addresses, social security numbers, telephone numbers, etc.

2. Request Number 4

Plaintiff's request number 4 seeks "[T]he doctors line schedule patients appointment (name, prison number and location) for the date of July 22, 2010." (Dkt. No. 28 at 12.) Defendant objected as follows:

The request is vague and ambiguous with respect to which 'doctors' are covered. So too, the request is undefined in terms of location. Because this request is incomprehensible as written, Kiesz is unable to respond.

To the extent that the request seeks information relating to the appointment schedule for any specific doctor at CSP-Solano's Primary Care Clinic on July 22, 2010, the request calls for information that is neither relevant to the claims at issue nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Likewise, the request is overly broad and seeks information concerning third-parties that is protected from disclosure by state and federal privacy laws. Kiesz will not respond to this request.

(Dkt. No. 28 at 17.)

Defendant's objections to this request on grounds of vagueness and ambiguity are reasonable. Defendant recognizes that plaintiff attempted to clarify his request by submitting a "Revised Request for Production of Documents" stating that he sought the "doctors scheduled patient list" for the "Primary Care Provider for Facility B and A." (Dkt. Nos. 28 at 6; 31 at 4.) Defendant states "[u]nfortunately, this supplemental discovery request was propounded... after the Court's deadline for service of all written discovery." (Dkt. No. 31 at 4.) Plaintiff explains in his motion to compel that his "revised" discovery requests were submitted in an informal attempt at resolving the discovery dispute. (Dkt. No. 28 at 1.) He persuasively argues that defendant, a nurse employed at CSP-Solano, is cognizant of precisely what a doctors scheduled patient list is and that such documents do not disclose information such as medical data, but rather only inmates' "name, prison number, and cell location." (Dkt. No. 28 at 4-5.) As plaintiff asserts, the information sought is relevant to the extent there were any "patient/inmates in the Primary Care Clinic on July 22, 2010, at approximately 2:30 p.m. who had witness[ed] the denial of medical treatment by defendant Kiesz as asserted in the complaint." (Dkt. No. 28 at 7.)

The court has carefully considered both parties' arguments. Again, it is sufficiently clear that certain documents responsive to this request, if they exist, would be highly relevant to plaintiff's claim. Accordingly, plaintiff's motion to compel will be granted to the limited extent that defendant is ordered to produce any documents commonly known as the "doctors scheduled patient list" reflecting the names of inmates who may have been in the Primary Care Clinic on July 22, 2010 at approximately 2:30 p.m., subject to a protective order requiring defense counsel to redact any information other than the names, numbers, and cell locations of inmates who might have been present at that particular relevant time.

3. Request Number 5

Plaintiff's request number 5 seeks "[T]he nurses line schedule patients appointment (name, prison number, and location) for the date of July 22, 2010." (Dkt. No. 28 at 12.) Defendant objected as follows:

The request is vague and ambiguous with respect to which "nurses" are covered. So too, the request is undefined in terms of location. Because this request is incomprehensible as written, Kiesz is unable to respond.

To the extent that the request seeks information relating to the appointment schedule for any specific nurse at CSP-Solano's Primary Care Clinic on July 22, 2010, the request calls for information that is neither relevant to the claims at issue nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Likewise, the request is overly broad and seeks information concerning third-parties that is protected from disclosure by state and federal privacy laws. Kiesz will not respond to this request.

(Dkt. No. 28 at 17.)

As defendant notes, this request mirrors the previous request, except that plaintiff is seeking the "register nurse scheduled patient list" rather than that of the primary care physician. In support of their positions, plaintiff and defendant advance the same arguments just discussed in regard to the previous request. Accordingly, for the same reasons just discussed, plaintiff's motion to compel will be granted as to request number 5 to the extent that defendant is ordered to produce any documents commonly known as the "register nurse scheduled patient list" reflecting the names of inmates who may have been in the Primary Care Clinic on July 22, 2010 at approximately 2:30 p.m., subject to a protective ...


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