United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
ANTHONY TELLIS, ET AL.
JAMES M. LEBLANC, ET AL.
L. HORNSBY U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the court are Defendants' Motion for Protective Order
(Doc. 102); Defendants' Motion to Compel (Doc. 112); and
Plaintiffs' Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint (Doc.
putative class action was filed by Anthony Tellis and Bruce
Charles on behalf of themselves and all other similarly
situated prisoners at David Wade Correctional Center.
Plaintiffs seek injunctive and declaratory relief regarding
“cruel and unusual conditions” of confinement for
prisoners on extended lockdown at DWCC. Plaintiffs allege,
among other things, that the conditions and the lack of
appropriate mental health care trigger the onset or worsening
of mental illness, which creates significant risk of serious
harm to prisoners. Plaintiffs also allege that the facts
giving rise to their claims are rooted in Defendants'
systemic practices and policies, which apply with equal force
to all prisoners held on extended lockdown.
are represented by the Advocacy Center, which represents that
is the designated Protection and Advocacy
(“P&A”) agency in the state of Louisiana.
Plaintiffs state that the Advocacy Center has a federal
statutory mandate to investigate allegations of abuse and
neglect of people with disabilities. That mandate, according
to Plaintiffs, explicitly includes people with disabilities
in prison. Doc. 108, p. 6.
2017, the Advocacy Center sued Department of Corrections
Secretary James M. LeBlanc, DWCC Warden Goodwin, and Colonel
Lonnie Nail in the Middle District of Louisiana for not
permitting the Advocacy Center reasonable access to inmates
at DWCC. The Advocacy Center and the Louisiana Department of
Corrections entered into a settlement agreement regarding the
Advocacy Center's access to prisoners at DWCC. Plaintiffs
were not parties to that lawsuit.
Motion for Protective Order (Doc. 102)
August 2018, Plaintiffs conducted a site inspection of DWCC
with their expert witnesses. The site inspection was
authorized by the court in a prior memorandum order (Doc. 91)
that was issued pursuant to a discovery motion. The court
imposed the following conditions on the site inspection.
First, Defendants, their counsel, and their experts could
accompany Plaintiffs' counsel and Plaintiffs' experts
during all aspects of the site visit. Second, Defendants,
their counsel, and their experts were required to keep a
sufficient distance between them and Plaintiffs' counsel
and experts during cell-front prisoner interviews so that the
interviews could be conducted with a measure of respect and
in a reasonably confidential manner.
Plaintiffs' counsel advised Defendants of their intention
to conduct an additional site visit to do attorney
walkthroughs of certain tiers. Defendants refused. Plaintiffs
responded to Defendants' denial by invoking the dispute
resolution provisions of the Middle District settlement
agreement. Defendants took the position that the settlement
agreement did not apply once litigation has begun.
considering all of the parties' arguments,
Defendants' Motion for a Protective Order (Doc. 102) is
denied. The court does not believe that Plaintiffs are
attempting to use the settlement agreement to circumvent
well-established discovery procedures. The court finds that
Plaintiffs' counsel are entitled to conduct an additional
tier walkthroughs and cell-front interviews pursuant to Rule
26 and Rule 34. The court does not perceive this request as a
“fishing expedition, ” as Defendants contend.
parties are ordered to meet and confer in good faith
regarding the date for the inspection. All previous
conditions imposed on the prior inspection (Doc. 91) apply to
this additional inspection.
are cautioned that the court may require a strong showing of
good cause before allowing additional requests under
Fed.R.Civ.P. 34 for tier walkthroughs. Indeed, the
court's resolution of Plaintiffs' motion to amend may
obviate the need for additional tier walkthroughs for this
litigation. Defendants are cautioned that any further
discovery motion filed in this court must be preceded by a
“meet and confer” conducted in person or by
telephone; an ...