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Freeman v. Rost

United States District Court, D. North Dakota

November 16, 2018

Bruce Freeman, Plaintiff,
Amanda Rost, et. al., Defendant.


          Charles S. Miller, Jr., Magistrate Judge.

         On September 25, 2018, Defendants Amanda Rost, Mike Graner, and Darren Heidbreder (hereinafter the “County Defendants”) filed a Motion to Compel Discovery. On November 8, 2018, they filed a Motion to Modify Scheduling Order. Defendant Justin Hager has joined in both motions. For the reasons set forth below, the motions are granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The plaintiff, Bruce Freemen (“Freeman”), was convicted in this district of the offense of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance and sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 120 months. See United States v. Freeman, No. 1:15-cr-043 (D.N.D.). He is presently incarcerated at MCFFP Springfield, an administrative security federal medical center in Springfield, Missouri. He initiated the above-entitled action pro se in October 2017. Concluding that, for purposes of its initial review, he had asserted a cognizable claim against defendants for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs, the court allowed him to proceed.

         In lieu of requiring the parties to confer in accordance with Fed.R.Civ.P. Rule 26(f) and thereafter participate in a Rule 16(b) scheduling/discovery conference, the court issued a scheduling order on May 4, 2018. The scheduling order provided in relevant part that the parties were to make their Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures by May 15, 2018, and complete fact discovery by January 1, 2019.

         On September 25, 2018, the County Defendants filed a Motion to Compel Discovery pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 37. They aver that Freeman has not made his Rule 26(a) disclosures as directed in the court's scheduling order and has failed to respond to the thirteen interrogatories and two requests for production of documents that they served upon him on June 13, 2018.[1] They seek an order from the court compelling Freeman to respond to their discovery requests as they pertain to his alleged eye injury, his underlying health, and the facts surrounding each instance where they allegedly denied and/or prevented him from obtaining treatment. On October 8, 2018, Defendant Dustin Hager joined in the County Defendants motion and in so doing advise that Freeman had been unresponsive to his discovery requests as well.[2]

         On October 11, 2018, the County Defendants filed a supplement to their Motion to Compel Discovery in which they advise that Freeman did recently respond to their second production request and provided them with an executed authorization for release of his medical records.

         On November 8, 2018, the County Defendants filed a Motion to Modify Scheduling Order. Therein they advise: (1) Freeman has to date neither fulfilled his discovery obligations under Rule 26(a) nor responded to their interrogatories and remaining request for production; (2) they were nevertheless able to use the release provided to them by Freeman to obtain medical records from four of Freeman's medical providers; (3) they are currently awaiting additional medical records from the fourth medical provider; and (4) have requested Freeman to execute additional specialized medical release forms that they understand are necessary in order to obtain Freeman's medical records from the United States Marshal and Bureau of Prisons.[3] Next, they request that the court extend the pretrial deadlines, averring that the delays in obtaining medical records and Freeman's general lack of cooperation are hampering their ability to properly defend this case.

         On November 13, 2018, Defendant Hager joined in the County Defendants' Motion to Modify Scheduling Order.


         A. Motion to Compel

         Rule 26(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires the parties to make certain initial disclosures as ordered by the court. Rule 26(b)(1) address the scope of discovery. Specifically, it provides:

Unless otherwise limited by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged 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 the scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1); see also Colonial Funding Network, Inc. v. Genuine Builders, Inc., 326 F.R.D. 206, 211 (D.S.D. 2018). (“The reason for the broad scope of discovery is that ‘[m]utual knowledge of all the relevant facts gathered by both parties is essential to proper litigation. To that end, either party may compel the other to disgorge whatever facts he has in his possession.”” 8 Wright & Miller, § 2007, 39 (quoting Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 507-08 (1947)). ‚ÄúDiscoverable information itself need not be admissible at trial; rather, the defining question is whether it is ...

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