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 Plaintiffs' First Motion to Compel
Discovery. (R. Doc. 129). The Motion is Opposed. (R. Doc.
146). Plaintiffs have filed a Reply. (R. Doc. 156). 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
also 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).
do not seek to compel response to any particular production
request they propounded to Defendant Landry, but rather argue
that Landry “unilaterally limited his search to
e-mails” for the year prior to the initiation of this
litigation. (R. Doc. 129-1 at 1). Plaintiffs suggest that, by
not searching for documents beyond emails, Defendant Landry
failed to make a reasonable inquiry to find responsive
documents. (R. Doc. 129-1 at 3). Defendants' position is
that Landry's search was reasonable, including interviews
to identify the potential sources of responsive documents,
and the email search of 23 custodians. (R. Doc. 146 at 1-2).
Defendants argue that any additional search “would be
unlikely to uncover responsive documents that would not also
be captured by a search of email, ” and “would
likely only lead to a privilege log, which in turn would not
disclose details of many documents.” (R. Doc. 146 at
for Defendant Landry reiterated at oral argument their
position that anything responsive but not privileged would be
duplicative of what the search of email returned, and that
anything else would be privileged. However, counsel for
Plaintiffs noted that they possessed a letter dated June 8
that was not produced. Upon questioning, counsel for
Defendant Landry confirmed that this letter was also sent to
other abortion providers, and was responsive to
Plaintiffs' production requests, but could not explain
why it had not been produced.
Court also questioned counsel regarding whether Defendant
Landry had provided Plaintiffs with the search terms and
methodology used to locate responsive documents. Counsel for
Defendant Landry indicated that information had not been
provided, and suggested that the justification for same ...