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Walker v. Corizon Health, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Kansas

January 10, 2019

SHERMAINE WALKER, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
CORIZON HEALTH INC. f/k/a CORRECTIONAL MEDICAL SERVICES, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM & ORDER ON MOTION TO COMPEL

          HON. KENNETH G. GALE U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Now before the Court is the Motion to Compel Discovery filed by Plaintiffs. (Doc. 76.) Having reviewed the submissions of the parties, Plaintiffs' motion is GRANTED.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs are the surviving natural relatives of decedent Marques Davis. They bring the present case alleging deliberate indifference to his serious medical need and failure to provide medical care, failure to train, inadequate supervision, and wrongful death of Davis while he incarcerated at the Hutchinson, Kansas, Correctional Facility. (See Doc. 4.)

         In the present motion, Plaintiffs move the Court for an Order compelling Defendant Corizon Health, Inc. (“Defendant”) “to produce the entirety of the healthcare manuals requested in Plaintiffs' Second Request for Production.” (Doc. 76, at 1.) The second set of Requests were served on September 25, 2018. (Doc. 76-1.) According to Plaintiffs, “[s]uch discovery sought specific manuals and/or policies and procedures that Defendant Corizon utilizes while rendering healthcare to inmates. These manuals and/or policies and procedures were identified through various indexes produced by Defendant in response to Plaintiffs First Request for Production.” (Id., at 2.)

         Defendant's response to these discovery requests was served on October 31, 2018 (Doc. 76-2), but, according to Plaintiffs, did not include the entirety of the manuals Plaintiffs requested. (Doc. 76, at 3.) Defendant contends that Plaintiffs First Requests for Production, served in April 2018, included Requests for “these same policies ….” (Doc. 79, at 2; Doc. 79-1.)

         ANALYSIS

         I. Legal Standards.

         Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b) states that

[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding 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 state 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. Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

         As such, the requested information must be nonprivileged, relevant, and proportional to the needs of the case to be discoverable. Holick v. Burkhart, No. 16-1188-JTM-KGG, 2018 WL 372440, at *2 (D. Kan. Jan. 11, 2018).

         II. Discovery Requests at Issue.

         Plaintiffs contend that the manuals, policies, and procedures they seek “are the policies, procedures, rules, guidelines, etc. that Defendant utilizes when providing medical care to inmates. … [S]uch evidence as it relates to Defendant Corizon's medical care and treatment of inmates including, but not limited to[, ] decedent … is required by law to prove a Monell claim for damages.”

         A Monell theory of liability exists when a plaintiff establishes

(1) the existence of a municipal policy or custom by which the plaintiff was denied a constitutional right and
(2) that the policy or custom was the moving force behind the constitutional deprivation (i.e. that ‘there is a direct causal link between the policy or custom and the injury alleged').

Monell v. New York City Dept. of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 694-95, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). See also Bryson v. City of Okla. City, 627 F.3d 784, 788 (10th Cir. 2010). Private entities acting under the color of law are also subject to Monell claims. Dubbs v. Head Start, Inc., 336 F.3d 1194, at n.13 (10th Cir. 2003) (citations omitted). Plaintiffs argue that they “will be denied evidence that they are required by law to present to support their claims against Defendant” if Defendant is “not … required to produce its manuals and policies and procedures … .” (Doc. 76, at 7-8.) In this context, the Court will review the discovery requests at issue.

         Request No. 1 sought “a full and complete copy of the 2015 Corizon NETS Manual, ” which Plaintiffs identified by bates number. (Doc. 76-1, at 2.) “This request includes, but is not limited to all of the NETs 2015 Titles (25) listed on the table of contents for the 2015 Corizon NETS Manual.” (Id.) That table of contents was also identified by bates number.

         Defendant responded with the following:

Objection, this request is over broad, burdensome, harassing in that the document request is redundant of previous requests, and seeks documents which are neither relevant nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. Without waiving said objections, defendant states that it previously produced portions of this manner that were specifically ...

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