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Tellis v. Leblanc

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

October 17, 2019

ANTHONY TELLIS, ET AL
v.
JAMES M. LEBLANC, ET AL

          FOOTE MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          Mark L. Hornsby U.S. Magistrate Judge

         Introduction

         The Advocacy Center, on behalf of inmates at the David Wade Correctional Center (“DWCC”), filed this putative class action to seek injunctive relief with respect to the mental health care afforded inmates who are held in extended lockdown on the South Compound in buildings N-1 through N-4, which are solitary confinement and extended lockdown tiers. Before the court is Defendants' Motion for Mental Examinations (Doc. 216). Defendants seek an order allowing their chosen psychiatrists to perform mental evaluations of 42 inmates housed in the South Compound at DWCC. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted.

         Applicable Law

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 35(a) states:

         Order for an Examination.

(1) In General. The court where the action is pending may order a party whose mental or physical condition-including blood group-is in controversy to submit to a physical or mental examination by a suitably licensed or certified examiner. The court has the same authority to order a party to produce for examination a person who is in its custody or under its legal control.
(2) Motion and Notice; Contents of the Order. The order:
(A) may be made only on motion for good cause and on notice to all parties and the person to be examined; and
(B) must specify the time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the examination, as well as the person or persons who will perform it.

         When a party's “mental or physical condition” is in controversy, the court may order the party to submit to a Rule 35 examination by a “suitably licensed or certified examiner” when the movant shows “good cause” for the request. Fed.R.Civ.P. 35(a) (1) and 35(a)(2). There is a two-part test for determining whether the motion should be granted: (1) the physical or mental state of the party must be in controversy, and (2) the moving party must show good cause as to why the motion should be granted. Schlagenhauf v. Holder, 379 U.S. 104, 116 (1964). “Good cause” requires a showing of specific facts that demonstrate the need for the information sought and lack of means for obtaining it elsewhere. Id. at 118. A “plaintiff in a negligence action who asserts mental or physical injury places that mental or physical injury clearly in controversy and provides the defendant with good cause for an examination to determine the existence and extent of such asserted injury.” Id. at 119.

         The decision as to whether to order an independent medical examination under Rule 35(a) rests in the court's sound discretion. Nicholas v. Liberty Personal Injury Company, 2016 WL 3922636, *1 (W.D. La. 2016). Furthermore, “[a]lthough Rule 35 examinations may be ordered ‘only on motion for good cause shown,' and use of the rule to compel such examinations is not unfettered, Rule 35(a) generally has been construed liberally ...


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