United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER: (1) GRANTING IN PART, DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO COMPEL; AND [ECF No. 98] (2) GRANTING IN PART, DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER [ECF No. 103]
JILL L. BURKHARDT, Magistrate Judge.
Presently before the Court are two related motions: (1) Defendants' motion to compel Plaintiff's release for medical, mental health, and drug and alcohol treatment records (ECF No. 98); and (2) Plaintiff's motion for a protective order (ECF No. 103). Upon review of the motions and the responses submitted, Defendants' motion to compel is GRANTED in part and Plaintiff's motion for protective order is GRANTED in part.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiff, a prisoner proceeding pro se, filed the instant lawsuit under 28 § 1343(a)(3) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his civil rights. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff's complaint was filed on November 22, 2013. (Id. at 30.) The complaint alleges that Defendants violated Plaintiff's civil rights when he was arrested on November 19, 2011, in San Diego, California. (Id. at 3-25.) It alleges that Defendants used excessive force during his arrest, tortured him by using excessive force, and conspired with each other to fabricate police reports and prevent officers from writing police reports to cover up their use of excessive force and torture, and that Defendant Bailiff tacitly authorized or was indifferent to the officers' use of excessive force and torture. (Id. ) Plaintiff alleges that he "sustained serious injuries and... was hospitalized twice...." (Id. at 4.) "Plaintiff remains physically and emotionally injured and scarred and [P]laintiff continues to receive medical attention and psych (sic) therapy and medications [and] suffers... [from] emotional distress, mental anguish, severe depression, anxiety, [and] post-traumatic stress disorder." (Id. ) In his complaint, Plaintiff seeks punitive damages, as well as "compensatory relief for future medical costs, cosmetic surgery... extensive psych (sic) therapy and medications." (Id. )
II. MOTION TO COMPEL
Defendants seek a court order compelling Plaintiff to execute releases for all medical and mental health records. (ECF No. 98.) On April 2, 2015, Plaintiff informed Defendants of his extensive medical and psychiatric records at a number of hospitals. (Id. at 3.) Plaintiff suggested that Defendants "send him a HIPPA release to obtain his medical and psychiatric records." (Id. ) Plaintiff signed the form provided to him, however, he "blacked out the section requesting All psychiatric, drug and/or alcohol treatment, evaluation, treatment, abuse testing, counseling, rehabilitation records.'" (Id. S ee also ECF No. 98-6.) Thereafter, Plaintiff revoked his consent and sent Defendants a second form reflecting the same edits but also modifying the timeframe of the records request to the period from the date of his arrest - November 19, 2011 - to the present date. (Id. at 3-4. See also ECF No. 98-7.)
Defendants argue that they are entitled to Plaintiff's medical, mental health, and drug and alcohol records from November 2001 to the present.
Inasmuch as Plaintiff has placed his physical and mental health at issue in this matter, and as he was under the influence of amphetamines and opiates at the time of his arrest,  Defendants are entitled to investigate the extent of Plaintiff's current and prior injuries, what treatment Plaintiff received, including physical, psychiatric and drug and alcohol treatment, and who provided said treatment.
(ECF No. 98 at 4.) Defendants recognize that some courts have been unwilling to compel a party to sign a medical release form when the requesting party can obtain the medical records from the custodian by way of a subpoena. In the instant case however, Defendants are also requesting psychiatric, drug, and alcohol records. In light of the records requested, "the medical providers will not honor a subpoena... [and instead] demand Plaintiff's written authorization for release of records." (Id. at 5.)
Accordingly, Defendants contend that Plaintiff should be compelled to sign the releases because "a party may be required to produce a document that is in the possession of a nonparty if the party has a legal right to obtain the document." (Id. at 5 (citing Bryant v. Armstrong, 285 F.R.D. 596, 603 (S.D. Cal. 2012) (citations omitted).) The only practical way for Plaintiff to provide these third-party documents is to sign a release.
III. MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER
Plaintiff responded to Defendants' motion to compel by filing a motion for protective order. (ECF No. 103.) Plaintiff seeks a protective order to narrow Defendants' "overbroad" request for his medical and mental health records. (Id. at 6.) As narrowed by Plaintiff, the request seeks: Plaintiff's "medical records, including drug testing analysis, beginning with the date of: November 19, 2011 to the conclusion of the instant action, " and Plaintiff's "mental health records beginning with the date of: November 19, 2011 to the conclusion of the instant action." (Id. at 7.)
Plaintiff contends that Defendants' request for records is overbroad and seeks private, irrelevant and privileged documents. (Id. at 5-6.) Plaintiff argues that the request is overbroad because it seeks records from before Plaintiff's arrest - the event giving rise to Plaintiff's claims. (Id. at 5.) Furthermore, the request seeks documents that are not relevant to claims and defenses presented in this action. (Id. ) "Alcohol, especially, played no role in the instant action." (Id. at 6.) Finally, Plaintiff argues that Defendants' request seeks privileged documents and that Plaintiff should not be compelled to sign a release. (Id. at 6.) Specifically, Plaintiff asserts the "psychotherapist-client privilege, " and cites to Jaffe v. Redmond, 518 U.S. 1, 15 (1996). (Id. )
Defendants oppose Plaintiff's motion and argue that such discovery is relevant in light of Plaintiff's claims for physical injuries and emotional distress damages. (ECF No. 104.) Furthermore, in "addition to explicitly alleging in his complaint that he was physically injured and suffered emotional distress, mental anguish, severe depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and that he continued to receive psych treatment and medications, Plaintiff has designated four mental health experts in his First Designation of Experts." (Id. at 2.) "Plaintiff clearly intends to present evidence and rely on treating physicians and experts to support his claims... and has therefore waived the psychotherapist-patient privilege." (Id. at 3.) Defendants further argue that they are entitled to "investigate ...