United States District Court, S.D. California
ESTATE OF GERARDO CRUZ-SANCHEZ, by and through his successor-in-interest Paula Garcia Rivera, et al., Plaintiffs,
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, et al., Defendants.
ORDER ON JOINT MOTION FOR DETERMINATION OF DISCOVERY
DISPUTE NO. 1 [ECF NOS. 55, 56] 
NITA L. STORMES, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court is a Joint Motion for Determination of Discovery
Dispute No. 1, filed by Plaintiffs and Defendant CoreCivic,
Inc. (“CoreCivic”), which addresses the
parties' dispute regarding CoreCivic's responses to
Plaintiffs' Request for Production (Sets Five and Six)
Nos. 143, 144, 148, and 149. ECF No. 55 at 2.
to the allegations in Plaintiffs' Second Amended
Complaint, the United States arrested Gerardo Cruz-Sanchez in
early February 2016 as a material witness to the crime of
alien-smuggling. ECF No. 41 ¶ 1. He was not charged with
a crime, but because he could not afford bail, he was
incarcerated in the Otay Mesa Detention Center
(“OMDC”), which is run by CoreCivic. Id.
x-ray administered on February 9, 2016, showed no signs of
tuberculosis or pneumonia and Mr. Cruz-Sanchez was admitted
to the detention center on February 11, 2016. Id.
¶¶ 1, 14. A few days later, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez
developed a headache, sore throat, painful burning sensation,
persistent cough, nasal congestion, fatigue, and loss of
appetite. Id. ¶ 24. On February 14, 2016, Mr.
Cruz-Sanchez submitted a sick call request and was seen by a
nurse who noted that his appointment was due to an upper
respiratory infection. Id. ¶¶ 27-28.
However, instead of ordering a chest x-ray or referring him
to a physician, she gave him 200 milligrams of Ibuprofen and
sent him back to his cell. Id. ¶ 31.
Cruz-Sanchez's symptoms worsened, so two days later he
saw another nurse and reported a productive cough, body
aches, a sore throat, and a severe level of pain.
Id. ¶¶ 34-35. In response, the nurse gave
him additional Ibuprofen tablets as well as salt packets and
sent him back to his cell. Id. ¶ 38. The next
day, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez submitted another sick call request and
was seen by a physician's assistant. Id. ¶
39. He reported fever at night, chills, nausea through the
day, lack of appetite, pain, body aches, and a scratchy
throat. Id. ¶¶ 40-41. The physician's
assistant noted in Mr. Cruz-Sanchez's chart that he had
“viral etiology vs. bacterial or allergy, ” and
then gave Mr. Cruz-Sanchez more Ibuprofen and some
Promethazine (an allergy medication) and returned him to his
cell. Id. ¶¶ 42, 48.
February 21, 2016, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez again sought medical
attention. Id. ¶ 49. After a nurse sent him
back to his cell, he began coughing up blood all over his
clothing and bed sheets. Id. ¶ 53. His
cellmate, Alejandro Chavez-Lopez, pleaded with Defendant C.O.
Landin and other staff to provide Mr. Cruz-Sanchez with
medical care, but to no avail. Id. ¶ 54.
Between February 22th and February 26th, Mr.
Cruz-Sanchez's condition deteriorated to the point where
he was unable to talk or swallow food and he developed
shortness of breath, respiratory distress, and wheezing, but
he was not provided with any medical care. Id.
¶¶ 55-58. Defendant Landin allegedly mocked Mr.
Cruz-Sanchez for complaining during this time, refused to
assist him, and told Mr. Chavez-Lopez that Mr. Cruz-Sanchez
“needs to be nearly dead to be taken to the
hospital.” Id. ¶¶ 63-68.
morning of February 26, 2016, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez could not get
up from his bed, which was covered in blood. Id.
¶ 72. Mr. Chavez-Lopez and another detainee picked him
up and dragged him to a table in the common area to get him
to eat. Id. Mr. Cruz-Sanchez coughed up blood on the
table and Defendant Landin then yelled at him for making a
mess. Id. Thereafter, Mr. Cruz-Sanchez was taken to
CoreCivic's medical facility. Id. ¶ 73. The
doctor who examined him diagnosed Mr. Cruz-Sanchez with
“acute respiratory distress w/burning chest pain,
cough, subcut emphysema, hypoxemia, tachypnea, tachycardia -
suspect spontaneous pneumothorax vs. other cardio pulmonary
or GI etiology.” Id. ¶ 76. Someone from
the medical facility called 911 and Mr. Cruz-Sanchez was
transported to Scripps Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista,
California, where he was placed on mechanical ventilation and
diagnosed with “pneumomediastinum with extensive
subcutaneous emphysema, hypoxemia, acute kidney injury,
healthcare associated pneumonia, new onset of diabetes and
hypokalemia.” Id.¶ 78. Three days later
Mr. Cruz-Sanchez died. Id. ¶ 80.
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows a party to
request that another party “permit the requesting party
or its representative to inspect, copy, test, or sample
[documents] in the responding party's possession,
custody, or control.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 34(a)(1). If the
producing party objects in whole or in part to the request,
it must “state with specificity the grounds for
objecting to the request, including the reasons.”
scope of information discoverable under Rule 34 is governed
by Rule 26, which permits discovery of “any
nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's
claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case,
considering the importance of the issues at stake in the
action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative
access to relevant information, the parties' resources,
the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and
whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery
outweighs its likely benefit.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).
Information need not be admissible to be discoverable.
instant dispute centers around Plaintiffs' request for
call logs and recordings of telephone calls made at OMDC
between February 13, 2016 and March 3, 2016. Mr. Cruz-Sanchez
was assigned to J-Pod open-bay dorm room 106 for the duration
of his time at OMDC. ECF No. 56-2 ¶¶ 15-16; ECF No.
55-2, Ex. G. The open-bay dorm rooms house up to eight
detainees. Id. ¶ 10.
to Gary Burcham, an attorney assisting Plaintiffs with the
factual investigation of the case, he asked material witness
attorney Stacey A. Kartchner whether she knew of any
detainees who may have witnessed Mr. Cruz-Sanchez's
health crisis in February 2016. ECF No. 55-3 ¶¶ 1,
3. Ms. Karchner identified Jose Soto-Garcia and his wife,
Sandra Murillo, as potential witnesses. Id. ¶
3. Mr. Burcham then spoke with Ms. Murillo, who confirmed
that her husband was detained at OMDC in February 2016 and
had spoken to her about Mr. Cruz-Sanchez being terribly ill.
Id. ¶ 4. On November 3, 2017, Mr. Brucham spoke
with Mr. Soto-Garcia, who confirmed that he told his wife
that he saw Mr. Cruz-Sanchez vomit blood in the mess hall on
February 26, 2016. Id. ¶ 5. However, since that
day, Mr. Burcham has been unable to make ...