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Mealy v. Gautreaux

United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana

July 15, 2019

SHERIFF SID J. GAUTREAUX, III, as the political entity responsible for the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, ET AL.



         Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions Pursuant to F.R.C.P. 30(d)(2). (R. Doc. 85). The motion is opposed. (R. Doc. 100). Plaintiff filed a Reply. (R. Doc. 103).

         Also before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Compel Production of Documents. (R. Doc. 86). The City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge (“City-Parish”) did not file a timely opposition. LR 7(f). The City-Parish did, however, raise certain arguments with respect to this motion in the context of opposing Plaintiff's Motion for Sanctions. (R. Doc. 100 at 8-10). Plaintiff filed a Reply. (R. Doc. 104).

         I. Background

         On October 25, 2016, Sherman Mealy (“Plaintiff”) commenced this action seeking relief under Title II of the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“RA”), and 42 U.S.C § 1983. (R. Doc. 1). Plaintiff filed this action after his release from the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison. Plaintiff, who is a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair, alleges that he was denied access to wheelchair-accessible showers and instead forced to ask other inmates to help him use the general population showers. Plaintiff also alleges that he was denied various medical supplies. Defendant Sheriff Sid Gautreaux and Defendant the City- Parish of East Baton Rouge each filed motions to dismiss Mr. Mealy's claims. (R. Doc. 10, 12). On July 21, 2017 those opposed motions were denied with respect to Mr. Mealy's constitutional claims under Section 1983, and freestanding ADA and RA claims. (R. Doc. 41).

         On March 9, 2018, the City-Parish responded to Plaintiff's First Set of Requests for Admissions, Interrogatories, and Requests for Production of Documents. (R. Doc. 79-2).

         On April 26, 2018, Plaintiff's counsel sent a letter claiming various deficiencies in the discovery responses. (R. Doc. 86-3). The parties held a discovery conference on May 14, 2018, as documented in a letter from Plaintiff's counsel dated May 21, 2018. (R. Doc. 86-4). Among other things, Plaintiff raised issues regarding the City-Parish's responses to Plaintiff's Request for Production Nos. 3, 6, 13 and 14.

         Plaintiff's counsel represents that “[o]n Thursday, June 21, 2018, defense counsel shared a dropbox folder ‘Mealy v. Gautreaux, et al - City's Combined Supplemental Responses and Responses to Plaintiff's First and Second Set of ROGs and RFPs' with Plaintiff's counsel that contained several thousand pages of unorganized documents.” (R. Doc. 86-5 at 1). Plaintiff's counsel further states that “[i]n a conversation with [the City-Parish's attorney] Mr. Howell Andrews leading up to the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition, Mr. Andrews informed [Plaintiff's counsel] that he had ‘produced everything in his file' and that he wasn't holding anything back.” (R. Doc. 86-5 at 2). Plaintiff represents that his counsel believed that all responsive documents had been located and produced in light of the folder's contents and conversations with defense counsel. (R. Doc. 86-1 at 5).

         On November 6, 2018, the City-Parish objected to Plaintiff's Rule 30(b)(6) Notice of Deposition of the City-Parish. (R. Doc. 100-1). The deposition commenced on November 7, 2018 with Rintha Simpson as the Rule 30(b)(6) representative. (R. Doc. 100-2). During the continuation of the deposition on November 16, 2018, Mr. Andrews handed Ms. Simpson a note stating the following “Do not give information not asked. DO NOT TELL THERE IS MORE THAN ONE HMA - Report.” (R. Doc. 108; see R. Doc. 100-3 at 2).

         After the deposition, Plaintiff requested the production of a “PMS 2015 Internal PO's sheet” equivalent to Exhibit 10 of the deposition, a “back pain protocol” document referenced at the deposition, and an “updated Prison Medical Services report presented at Wednesday's Metro Council meeting” as discussed at the deposition. (R. Doc. 86-8 at 1).

         Through her Motion to Compel, Plaintiff seeks an order compelling the production of the foregoing documents. (R. Doc. 86 at 1). Plaintiff asserts that these documents are responsive to Plaintiff's Requests for Production Nos. 3, 6, 13 and/or 14. (R. Doc. 86-1 at 5-7). Defendant represents “[t]he City-Parish has produced all known medical records of the [P]laintiff, all applicable finance and budgetary records, personnel records, policies and protocols of EMS/PMS, training records, and the like within its known possession[, ]” and that the process of searching the storage location would be unduly burdensome and disproportionate to the needs of this case. (R. Doc. 100 at 10).

         Through her Motion for Sanctions, Plaintiff argues that defense counsel “impeded, delayed, and otherwise frustrated” Plaintiff's ability to take a fair Rule 30(b)(6) examination of the City-Parish “by (1) attempting to surreptitiously pass a note to the witness during Plaintiff's questioning of the witness, (2) making non-form objections, and (3) making numerous lengthy talking statements.” (R. Doc. 85 at 1; See R. Doc. 89-1). Plaintiff seeks an order requiring, among other things, that all future depositions be videotaped at the expense of the City-Parish, production of defense counsel's note passed to the Rule 30(b)(6) representative, and an award of attorney's fees for filing the motion and the costs of the Rule 30(b)(6) deposition transcript. (R. Doc. 85 at 1-2).

         Ms. Simpson has submitted an affidavit representing that to her knowledge “that while there is only one health management report prepared by Health Management Associates (‘HMA') pertaining to the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, and the report is in the form of a power point presentation, ” she is “also aware of another health management report prepared by a group [she understands] to be called Loop Capital, which is in the form of a paragraph-style essay.” (R. Doc. 100-3 at 2).

         II. Law and Analysis

         A. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel

         1. Legal Standards

         “Unless 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).

         “The court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(c)(1). Rule 26(c)'s “good cause” requirement indicates that the party seeking a protective order has the burden “to show the necessity of its issuance, which contemplates a particular and specific demonstration of fact as distinguished from stereotyped and conclusory statements.” In ...

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