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Bradley v. United States

United States District Court, D. Kansas

April 3, 2017

OTIS L. BRADLEY, JR., Deceased, by and Through TIMOTHY KING, Special Administrator, and LaTASHA BRADLEY, Heir of Decedent, Plaintiffs,


          Gerald L. Rushfelt U.S. Magistrate Judge.

         Otis L. Bradley, Jr., by and through Timothy King, the special administrator of his estate, and LaTasha Bradley, Mr. Bradley's wife and heir, bring this action against the United States of America, Dr. Kristine Aulepp, Amber McCafferty, Dr. Jason Clark, Jason Troll, Justin Alexander, Claude Maye, and two Jane and John Doe Defendants following the death of Mr. Bradley, a former inmate at the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas (“USP Leavenworth”). Plaintiffs assert the following claims in their Amended Complaint (ECF 8): (1) Bivens claim for violations of rights under the United States Constitution; (2) wrongful death pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”); (3) survival claim for personal injuries pursuant to the FTCA; and (4) breach of duty to provide reasonable care pursuant to the FTCA. This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Expedite Discovery (ECF 3). The motion is fully briefed and the Court is prepared to rule. For the reasons stated below, the Court denies Plaintiffs' motion.

         I. Factual Background

         The following factual allegations are taken from Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint. Mr. Bradley was incarcerated at USP Leavenworth from mid-2014 until early 2015, pursuant to his conviction as a felon in possession of a firearm. Defendant Dr. Kristine Aulepp performed an initial health screening on Mr. Bradley on May 21, 2014, which showed no signs of illness or disease. David Campbell, ARNP, completed Mr. Bradley's physical on June 3, 2014, which also showed no chronic health issues. Mr. Bradley was placed in solitary confinement, or “SHU, ” in early December 2014, following an altercation with a corrections officer. On December 15, 2014, Mr. Bradley collapsed in his cell. He was transferred to St. Luke's Cushing Hospital in Leavenworth, Kansas, where he presented with abdominal pain, facial and hand numbness, drooling, and eye twitching. Mr. Bradley had abnormal lab results. Dr. Chrstopher Warholic noted: “Discuss with jail medical need for further evaluation such as neurology evaluation or possible need for holter monitor.” Mr. Bradley was transported back to USP Leavenworth on December 16, 2014. In a follow-up appointment Dr. Aulepp noted “no further intervention needed.” Mr. Bradley's physical condition continued to deteriorate throughout December 2014, with no further evaluation or intervention by Dr. Aulepp or any other USP Leavenworth medical personnel or corrections workers. Additionally, from December 2014 through January 11, 2015, Mr. Bradley had contact with Defendants McCafferty, Dr. Clark, Troll, Alexander, and Maye. Plaintiffs allege these Defendants did nothing to address his medical condition observed during the December 2014 hospitalization.

         Mr. Bradley continued to experience medical issues in early January 2015. He reported to the prison medical clinic on January 11, 2015, exhibiting blood in his vomit and extreme pain in his abdomen. He was again transported to St. Luke's Cushing Hospital that same day. As of January 11, 2015, Mr. Bradley had been ill for nearly a month. He had lost 20 pounds in the past month, had not had a bowel movement for more than a week, and had been nauseous for many days. He was diagnosed with gallstones, pancreatitis, and diabetes.

         On January 12, 2015, Mr. Bradley was transferred to St. Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, where he remained until his death from pancreatitis on February 6, 2015. Mr. Bradley's family was notified on February 4, 2015, that he was on life support and they needed to come to St. Luke's Hospital to “make decisions.” Until this time, Mr. Bradley's family had no knowledge that he was ill. Plaintiffs allege Defendants did not provide Mr. Bradley with reasonable or competent care until he was repeatedly vomiting blood on January 11, 2015.

         II. Procedural History

         Following his death, Mr. Bradley's estate was opened on May 20, 2015. Medical records were requested from the treating hospital immediately following the opening of the estate, but the hospital did not provide these records to counsel for more than three months. Plaintiffs' counsel filed a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request on August 24, 2015, attempting to obtain prison records relevant to the investigation into Mr. Bradley's death. Counsel for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) responded that the request was “complicated” and could take up to nine months to process. Plaintiffs contend that their counsel called and asked that the request be expedited, while Defendants assert that Plaintiffs' counsel did not request that the FOIA request be expedited.[1]

         The BOP responded to Plaintiffs' FOIA request on December 9, 2015, by providing responsive records. Included in these records were 299 pages of documents released in full and eighteen pages released with some redactions. The BOP withheld 29 pages of documents in their entirety. The BOP maintains that only documents containing protected third-party information were redacted, and that Plaintiffs' counsel received the majority of documents related to Mr. Bradley, including his Inmate Central File, his Medical File, and his Psychology File. Plaintiffs maintain that while some of these documents were helpful, Plaintiffs had already received many of them from St. Luke's Hospital, and others did not specifically address the issues involved in this case.

         On May 12, 2016, Plaintiffs' counsel filed an administrative demand under the FTCA, and served the demand on the BOP. The 180-day deadline for the BOP to investigate the claim expired on November 22, 2016 without any documents being provided to Plaintiffs or Plaintiffs' counsel as part of the investigation into the demand.

         Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on December 15, 2016. In an effort to proceed with their Bivens claim and identify potential defendants relevant to this claim, Plaintiffs served BOP counsel with a series of interrogatories and requests for production. Plaintiffs' discovery requests sought information regarding corrections officers, medical staff, and other employees who interacted with Mr. Bradley, information concerning inmates located in cell blocks near Mr. Bradley, information regarding USP Leavenworth medical clinic staff, and documents related to Mr. Bradley's medical requests, treatments, and interactions with USP Leavenworth correctional workers and medical personnel.[2] Defendants did not respond to Plaintiffs' discovery requests. Plaintiffs filed the instant motion on December 28, 2016.

         On February 6, 2017, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint. Using information from the documents produced in response to the FOIA request, Plaintiffs added five Defendants to this action.

         III. Discussion

         Plaintiffs move the Court for an order to expedite discovery of the requested information, as discussed above. Generally, “[a] party may not seek discovery from any source before the parties have conferred as required by [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 26(f), except in a proceeding exempted from initial disclosure under Rule 26(a)(1)(B), or when authorized by these rules, by stipulation, or by court order.”[3] This is not a proceeding exempted from initial disclosure and the parties have not stipulated to early discovery. ...

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