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Arce v. Barnes

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

December 11, 2014

JOSE CARLOS ARCE, Plaintiff,
v.
JENNIFER BARNES as a private individual, CORIZON, LLC INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS AS REAL PARTY IN INTEREST, MICHAEL MITCHEFF Doctor, Defendants.

ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTIONS TO COMPEL

MARK J. DINSMORE, Magistrate Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's "Motion to Compel Answers to Interrogatories Propounded to Defendants Jennifer Barnes and Corizon, LLC" [Dkt. 36]; Plaintiff's "Motion to Compel Production of Documents" [Dkt. 37]; Plaintiff's "Motion to Compel Disclosure" [Dkt. 38]; and Plaintiff's "Motion to Compel Compliance." [Dkt. 57.] For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Docket Nos. 36, 37, and 38, and DENIES AS MOOT Docket No. 57.

I. Background

Jose Carlos Arce ("Plaintiff") was a prisoner at Indiana's Plainfield Correctional Facility. [Dkt. 21 ¶ 1.] On April 28, 2014, he filed an amended complaint against Jennifer Barnes ("Barnes"), Brian Smith ("Smith"), and Corizon, LLC ("Corizon") (collectively "Defendants"), alleging that they failed to adequately treat his back pain. [ See Dkt. 21.]

Arce's back pain began with an on-the-job injury suffered in 2007. [ Id. ¶ 16.] He received treatment in the form of therapy, steroid injections, electrical stimulation, and antiinflammatory/pain medication, until 2009, when he was incarcerated. [ Id. ¶¶ 18-20.] After his incarceration, his back pain was "tolerable and manageable, " in part because the prison provided an orthopedic mattress to help alleviate his pain. [ Id. ¶ 21.]

In April 2013, Arce temporarily left the Plainfield facility and left his mattress with a prison officer; when he returned, he alleges that the prison refused to return the mattress, causing his back pain to worsen. [ Id. ¶ 23.] He claims that he complained of increased pain, but that medical personnel did not conduct a physical exam and ordered only anti-inflammatory medication that failed to provide relief. [ Id. ¶ 25.] He specifically complains of an appointment with Defendant Barnes, in which he alleges that Barnes refused to conduct an exam or provide treatment for his pain. [ Id. ¶ 26.] He also states that he wrote to Defendant Smith- superintendent of the Plainfield facility-to inform Smith of the alleged lack of treatment, but that Smith did not respond. [ Id. ¶ 27.]

Arce's pain persisted until September 2013. [ Id. ¶ 29.] At that time, he began a course of physical therapy that caused his pain to diminish "to the point of being tolerable and manageable again." [ Id. ¶ 30.]

Two months later, in November 2013, Plaintiff filed this lawsuit. [ See Dkt. 1.] He asserts two main claims: First, he brings a claim pursuant under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and alleges that Defendants Barnes and Smith violated his Eighth Amendment rights because they "were deliberately indifferent" to the "objectively serious medical need" created by his back pain. [ Id. ¶¶ 31-37.] Second, he brings a claim under Indiana state law, and alleges that Defendants' conduct constituted medical malpractice because they failed to meet "certain minimum standards of care" for his condition. [ Id. ¶ 43.]

Discovery commenced, and on April 28, 2014, Plaintiff sent to Defendants' counsel a set of interrogatories, a set of requests for production of documents, and a request for "disclosures." [ See Dkts. 36, 37, & 38.] He followed these with an amendment to each request on May 5, 2014. [Dkt. 39 at 2.] Defendants responded on June 4, 2014. [ Id. ] They included with their responses numerous objections, [ see, e.g., Dkt. 36 ¶ 5, Dkt. 38 ¶ 4], and Plaintiff filed the current motions to compel more extensive responses. [Dkts. 36, 37, & 38.] Three months later, Plaintiff filed an additional "Motion to Compel Compliance, " [Dkt. 57], related to one of his requests for disclosures. The Court conducted a hearing on the motions on October 27, 2014.

II. Discussion

Parties may "obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Relevance is "construed broadly, " Med. Assur. Co. v. Weinberger, 295 F.R.D. 176, 181 (N.D. Ind. 2013), and relevant information "need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).

Rule 37(a) allows a party to "move for an order compelling disclosure or discovery." Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(1). Courts have "broad discretion" in ruling on such motions and have "consistently adopted a liberal interpretation of the discovery rules" in order to "aid the search for truth." Kodish v. Oakbrook Terrace Fire Prot. Dist., 235 F.R.D. 447, 450 (N.D. Ill. 2006). The scope of discovery, however, has limits, and a court may deny a motion to compel to "protect a party from oppression or undue burden, " Chavez v. DaimlerChrysler Corp., 206 F.R.D. 615, 619 (S.D. Ind. 2002), or when the motion seeks irrelevant information. See, e.g., Barker v. Life Ins. Co. of N. Am., 265 F.R.D. 389, 396 (S.D. Ind. 2009). With these principles in mind, the Court addresses each of Plaintiff's motions.

A. Docket No. 36: "Motion to Compel Answers to Interrogatories Propounded to Defendants Jennifer Barnes and Corizon, LLC"

Plaintiff's Amended Interrogatories contained sixteen questions. [ See Dkt. 36 ¶ 2.] Defendants objected to numbers 6 through 9 and 11 through 16. [Dkt. 39 at 3-5.]

1. Amended Interrogatories Nos. 6, 7, 8, and 9

Amended Interrogatories Nos. 6 and 7 ask Defendants to state whether, and if so, how many times, Jennifer Barnes has been the defendant in any "legal action/lawsuit in relation to providing medical care." [Dkt. 39-1 at 7.] Nos. 8 and 9 ask for the same information with regard to ...


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