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Baca v. Biter

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 25, 2017

FRANK BACA, Plaintiff,
MARTIN BITER, et al., Defendants.



         I. Procedural History

         Plaintiff is a state prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis with appointed counsel in this civil rights action brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. On November 15, 2016, the Court screened Plaintiff's first amended complaint and found that it stated cognizable claims against Defendant Does 1-3, medical professionals at Kern Valley State Prison (“KVSP”), and Does 4-18, members of the Headquarters Utilization Management (“HUM”) Committee employed by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (“CDCR”) for failing to treat Plaintiff's Hepatitis C in violation of the Eighth Amendment. (ECF No. 10.)

         The Court opened discovery for the limited purpose of identifying the names of the Doe Defendants. (Id.) Plaintiff was directed to inform the court of the documents which needed to be produced by the CDCR or the prison to identify the Doe Defendants. (Id.)

         On March 3, 2017, Plaintiff, through his counsel, filed a motion seeking the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum to Plaintiff's current institution, High Desert State Prison (“HDSP”), for portions of Plaintiff's medical record, and to CDCR for a complete roster of HUM Committee members from January 1, 2010 to January 7, 2015. Plaintiff reports that he requested his complete medical record from HDSP in the hopes of identifying the Doe Defendants responsible for treating Plaintiff's Hepatitis C, but has not received a response.

         With regard to Plaintiff's medical records, he specifically seeks any Requests for Services (CDCR Forms 7243) and Physician's Orders (CDCR Forms 7221) with printed names and/or legible signatures of medical professionals involved in Plaintiff's treatment for Hepatitis C. (ECF No. 13 at 1-2.) According to Plaintiff, pursuant to Chapter 8 of the CDCR Guide to Specialty Services for Inmates, these forms should have been signed by Doe Defendants 1-3. (Decl. of W. Schmidt in Supp. of Req. for Subpoena (ECF No. 13-1 ¶ 5.))

         With regard to the HUM Committee members, Plaintiff reports that the California Correctional Health Care Services (“CCHCS”) Inmate Medical Services Policies and Procedures, Volume 4, Chapter 34.2, lists members of the HUM Committee by position but not by name. According to the manual, the Committee is to be composed of the following professionals: 1) the Assistant Statewide Medical Examiner or designee; 2) the Deputy Medical Executive, Utilization Management, or designee; 3) three physician representatives; and 4) the Executive or Managerial representation from Medical, Nursing, Mental Health, Dental, and Quality Management, if appropriate. The HUM Committee may have been referred to as the Health Care Review Subcommittee (“HCRS”) at some point prior to 2015. It operates from the CDCR Headquarters, located at 1515 S Street, Sacramento, California 95811.

         On April 14, 2017, Plaintiff, through his counsel, filed an updated declaration reflecting his efforts to obtain the names of the HUM committee members from the CCHCS Public Records Act (“PRA”) office. (ECF No. 14.) Plaintiff's counsel was informed that the names of the HUM Committee members were “not releasable under the PRA . . . .” (Response to PRA Request (ECF No. 14-1.))

         II. Legal Standard

         The court's authorization of a subpoena duces tecum requested by an in forma pauperis plaintiff is subject to limitations. Because personal service of a subpoena duces tecum is required, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(b), “[d]irecting the Marshal's Office to expend its resources personally serving a subpoena is not taken lightly by the court, ” Austin v. Winett, 2008 WL 5213414, *1 (E.D.Cal.2008); 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d). Limitations include the relevance of the information sought as well as the burden and expense to the non-party in providing the requested information. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26, 45. A motion for issuance of a subpoena duces tecum should be supported by clear identification of the documents sought and a showing that the records are obtainable only through the identified third party. See, e.g., Davis v. Ramen, 2010 WL 1948560, *1 (E.D.Cal.2010); Williams v. Adams, 2010 WL 148703, *1 (E.D.Cal.2010). The “Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were not intended to burden a non-party with a duty to suffer excessive or unusual expenses in order to comply with a subpoena duces tecum.” Badman v. Stark, 139 F.R.D. 601, 605 (M.D.Pa.1991). Non-parties are “entitled to have the benefit of this Court's vigilance” in considering these factors. Id.

         III. Discussion

         It appears that the only option for Plaintiff to identify Defendants is to obtain further information by way of subpoena.

         Plaintiff is of course entitled to view his own medical records. Nonetheless, HDSP failed to timely respond to counsel's request for these records. For the limited purpose of determining the identities of the Doe Defendants for service, the Court will authorize the subpoena of any and all CDCR Forms 7243 and 7221 in Plaintiff's medical records containing the names of the health care professionals at KVSP responsible for treating or otherwise addressing Plaintiff's Hepatitis C, without prejudice to Plaintiff later seeking his entire medical record in ...

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