United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division
ANTHONY TELLIS, ET AL.
JAMES M. LEBLANC, ET AL.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE HORNSBY
ELIZABETH ERNY FOOTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiffs' appeal of the Magistrate
Judge's order granting Defendants' motion for mental
health exams. [Record Document 232]. The Magistrate
Judge's order is AFFIRMED in part and
MODIFIED as explained herein.
Tellis ("Tellis") and Bruce Charles
("Charles") brought this suit on behalf of a class
of all prisoners held in extended lockdown at David Wade
Correctional Center ("DWCC") and a sub-class of
prisoners with mental illness on the lockdown tiers. [Record
Document 154]. The Advocacy Center of Louisiana has since
been added as a Plaintiff in this matter. [Record Document
154]. Plaintiffs allege that Defendants' policies,
practices, and procedures are in violation of the First and
Eighth Amendments to the United States Constitution, the
Americans with Disabilities Act, and Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act. [Record Document 154 at 50-53].
Plaintiffs seek a declaratory judgment that Defendants are in
violation of the aforementioned laws and injunctive relief
enjoining Defendants from continuing to operate in an illegal
manner. [Record Document 154 at 53-54]. The motion for class
certification remains pending. [Record Document 2]. The
parties have agreed that there will only be one discovery
period in this case applicable to both class certification
and the merits of Plaintiffs' claims. [Record Document
241 at 2].
of discovery, Defendants seek to perform mental health
examinations on 42 individuals at DWCC. [Record Document
216]. Defendants argue that these exams are proper under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 35 because Plaintiffs have
placed at issue the mental health status of inmates held on
extended lockdown through their claims in this lawsuit,
because Plaintiffs' mental health experts met with the
inmates, and because without such exams Defendants'
experts would not have access to the individuals likely to be
"central to the opinions" of Plaintiffs'
experts. [Record Documents 216-1 at 3 and 221 at 2].
Plaintiffs opposed Defendants' motion by arguing, among
other things: that Defendants failed to properly specify the
scope, conditions, time, and methods of the exams; that
Defendants failed to establish "how or why these
individuals' mental health conditions are in
controversy"; and that Defendants failed to show good
cause for these exams because the individuals at issue are
already in Defendants' custody. [Record Document 219 at
2]. The Magistrate Judge responded to each of Plaintiffs'
objections and granted Defendants' motion. [Record
appealed the Magistrate Judge's order to this Court,
arguing that the Magistrate Judge's decision was in error
for reasons similar to those previously articulated. [Record
Documents 232 and 232-1]. Defendants responded, noting that
Plaintiffs could not carry their burden of demonstrating that
the Magistrate Judge's decision was "clearly
erroneous" and defending the decision on the merits.
[Record Document 237].
Court held a hearing on the matter on November 14, 2019, at
which the Court requested more information from both parties.
[Record Document 241]. The parties have now completed
supplemental briefing. [Record Documents 240, 245, 247]. In
these additional filings, Plaintiffs clarified that
Plaintiffs' experts had not in fact met individually with
each of the inmates and that Plaintiffs did not currently
claim an attorney-client relationship with all 42
individuals. [Record Document 240].
Standard of Review
the Federal Magistrate Act, a magistrate judge may issue
binding rulings on non-dispositive matters. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1)(A). A party that objects to such a ruling may
appeal to the district judge who "must. . . modify or
set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or
contrary to law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a). A clear error
standard applies to a magistrate judge's findings of
fact, while legal conclusions are reviewed de novo. See
Spillers v. Chevron USA Inc., No. 11-2163, 2013 WL
869387, at *3 (W.D. La. Mar. 6, 2013) (citing Choate v.
State Farm Lloyds, No. 03-2111, 2005 WL 1109432, at *1
(N.D. Tex. May 5, 2005)). "A finding is 'clearly
erroneous' when although there is evidence to support it,
the reviewing court on the entire evidence is left with the
definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been
committed." United States v. U.S. Gypsum Co.,
333 U.S. 364, 395 (1948). Hence, reversal of a factual
finding is improper whenever the "magistrate judge's
'account of the evidence is plausible in light of the
record viewed in its entirety.'" Smith v.
Smith, 154 F.R.D. 661, 665 (N.D. Tex. 1994) (quoting
Resolution Tr. Corp. v. Sands, 151 F.R.D. 616,
"619(N.D. Tex 1993)).
Law and Analysis
argue that they should be allowed to conduct the exams at
issue pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 35. [Record
Document 216]. Rule 35 provides that a court:
may order a party whose mental or physical condition ... 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
Fed. R Civ. P. 35(a)(1). Rule 35 further states that a court
should only order an exam "for good cause and on notice
to all parties and the person to be examined." Fed. R
Civ. P. 35(a)(2)(A). The order "must specify the time,
place, manner, conditions, and scope of the examination, as
well as the person or ...