United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
JUNE MEDICAL SERVICES, LLC, d/b/a HOPE MEDICAL GROUP FOR WOMEN, on behalf of its patients, physicians, and staff, ET AL.
REBEKAH GEE, in her official capacity as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health, ET AL.
RICHARD L. BOURGEOIS, JR. UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
the Court is Defendants' First Motion to Compel (R. Doc.
108) filed on April 19, 2018. Plaintiffs filed their
Opposition (R. Doc. 112) on May 10, 2018, and Defendants
filed their Reply (R. Doc. 120) on May 18, 2018. Plaintiffs
also provided the Court with certain documents for in
camera review pursuant to the Court's August 30,
2018 Order. (R. Doc. 184). Oral argument was held on
September 20, 2018. (R. Doc. 191).
initiated this litigation with the filing of their Complaint
(R. Doc. 1) on July 1, 2016. They filed a First Amended
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (R. Doc. 22)
on December 16, 2016, and a Second Amended Complaint for
Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (R. Doc. 88) on December 8,
2017. Defendants filed their Answer (R. Doc. 90) to
Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint on December 22,
seek declaratory and injunctive relief, challenging the
constitutionality of six bills passed by the Louisiana
Legislature during its 2016 Regular Session, as well as two
emergency regulations. (R. Doc. 1 at 2). Plaintiffs are
comprised of three medical doctors, appearing on behalf of
themselves and their patients, as well as June Medical
Services, LLC, d/b/a Hope Medical Group for Women
(“Hope”), a women's reproductive health
clinic in Shreveport, Louisiana. (R. Doc. 88 at 5).
assert that the six bills passed and two emergency
regulations impose unconstitutional requirements on women
seeking abortions, women's ability to obtain-and
doctors' ability to provide-certain types of abortions at
particular points past the last menstrual period, and the
availability of abortion services in Louisiana. Plaintiffs
assert that these bills and regulations violate their due
process and equal protection rights guaranteed by the
Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (R. Doc. 88 at
Law and Analysis
otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is
as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any
non-privileged 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. Information within this scope
of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be
discoverable.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). The court must
limit the frequency or extent of discovery if it determines
that: “(i) the discovery sought is unreasonably
cumulative or duplicative, or can be obtained from some other
source that is more convenient, less burdensome, or less
expensive; (ii) the party seeking discovery has had ample
opportunity to obtain the information by discovery in the
action; or (iii) the proposed discovery is outside the scope
permitted by Rule 26(b)(1).” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(2)(C).
provides a party with 30 days after service of the discovery
to respond or object. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
34(b)(2)(A). If a party fails to respond fully to discovery
requests made pursuant to Rule 34 in the time allowed by the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, the party seeking discovery
may move to compel disclosure and for appropriate sanctions
under Rule 37. An “evasive or incomplete disclosure,
answer, or response must be treated as a failure to disclose,
answer or respond.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4).
seek to compel Plaintiffs to produce their patient files. (R.
Doc. 108-1 at 1). In support of this, Defendants argue that
the only way to test Plaintiffs' allegation that H.B. 386
unduly burdens the decision to obtain an abortion “is
by measuring them against the medical records of
Plaintiffs[sic] patients.” (R. Doc. 108-1 at 1).
Defendants suggest that the patient files will provide
information such as the distance patients travel to reach the
clinic, the gestational age at the time of the initial
consultation and the abortion procedure, how many women
choose to have abortions within 72 hours of their initial
consultation, and potential medical consequences arising from
a longer wait. (R. Doc. 108-1 at 3-4). Plaintiffs respond
that the patient files are not relevant, production would be
overly burdensome, and assert patient privacy. (R. Doc. 112
at 3). Plaintiffs also suggest that much of the information
for the production requests in which Defendants seek the
patient files is in the Induced Termination of Pregnancy
(“ITOP”) reports provided to the Louisiana
Department of Health, and that the information sought by
Defendants that is not in the ITOP reports either (i) does
not exist in the patient files, or (ii) can be extrapolated
from a combination of the ITOP reports and Plaintiffs'
accounting summaries, which they are willing to produce. (R.
Doc. 112 at 3, 7-8).
argument, the Court asked Defendants to identify what
information they hoped to obtain from the patient files.
Defendants indicated that the patient files would reveal how
far each patient travelled to get to the Plaintiff clinic,
gestational age, the patient's reason for obtaining an
abortion, a patient's activities between initial
consultation and abortion, whether a patient received
financial assistance, and patients' salaries. Defendants
also expressed concern that Plaintiffs would provide patient
files to their experts, which Defendants suggest would
prejudice them if they were unable to obtain the same patient
files. When the Court discussed these issues with Plaintiffs,
Plaintiffs indicated that their experts would not be
receiving or reviewing patient files. Plaintiffs also
suggested that a combination of the account summaries and
ITOP reports would provide Defendants all of the information
they seek, except for a patient's activities between
initial consultation and abortion, but noted that patient
files were highly unlikely to contain that information.
Court also reviewed ten sample patient files along with the
corresponding account summaries and ITOP reports provided by
Plaintiffs. Based on the Court's review of those sample
files, the following information is available by way of
account summary and ITOP report: date of initial
consultation, date of abortion procedure, gestational age,
patient's zip code, patient's reported reason for
termination of pregnancy, and whether a patient received
financial assistance. Absent from all of the patient files
reviewed by the Court is any indication of what a patient did
with her time between initial consultation and procedure, or
the reason for the timing between her initial ...