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Verser v. Ruiz

October 14, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Harold A. Baker United States District Judge

Case Management Order

The plaintiff, currently incarcerated in Stateville Correctional Center, proceeds pro se on the following claims:

1) The defendants were deliberately indifferent to the plaintiff's serious medical needs by: a) ignoring doctor's orders that he be placed in a non-smoking cell; b) intentionally placing smoking inmates in his cell; c) failing to provide prescribed medication; and, c) refusing to make a restroom available after the plaintiff informed the defendants that his medication caused him to frequent the restroom.

2) Defendants Barfield, Davis, Robinson and Gooding violated the plaintiff's right to be free from excessive force when they punched him on September 2, 2007.

Before the court are several motions to compel by the plaintiff, which are addressed in turn below.

Motion to Compel #85

Medical Records

The plaintiff seeks a copy of his medical records and his master file from January, 2007 to the present.

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1) provides that the "[p]arties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party . . . ." Relevant information need not be admissible at trial if the discovery appears to be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. The IDOC defendants do not contend that the medical records are irrelevant, but they object to providing the plaintiff with free copies. Defendants object on principle to subsidizing the plaintiff's litigation, but they do not set forth how burdensome or expensive it would be to provide these records. "There is a presumption that 'the responding party must bear the expense of complying with discovery requests. . .'" Hagemeyer North America, Inc. V. Gateway Data Sciences Corp., 222 F.R.D. 594 (E.D. Wis. 2004), quoting Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340 (1978). The party opposing discovery bears the burden of overcoming this presumption. Id.

The medical records could be relevant or lead to relevant evidence regarding the plaintiff's claims for deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs. However, the plaintiff's request appears moot because Defendant Brink has already provided the records with her summary judgment motion (d/e 110), and it also appears from those medical records that the plaintiff already received a copy of his medical records from 8/5/06 to 3/20/07 (d/e 110, 4/3/07 medical progress note). The plaintiff's medical records after the end of 2007 would not be relevant because the plaintiff transferred out of Western in the Fall of 2007, and the events he complains of occurred in 2007.

It thus appears that the plaintiff has already been provided his relevant medical records. However, the plaintiff should be allowed to view his medical records from January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007, to confirm this conclusion.

Master File

The plaintiff also seeks copies of his entire "master file." 730 ILCS § 5/3-5-1(a) requires the IDOC to maintain a master record file on each inmate which contains:

(1) all information from the committing court;

(2) reception summary;

(3) evaluation and assignment reports and recommendations;

(4) reports as to program assignment and progress;

(5) reports of disciplinary infractions and disposition;

(6) any parole plan;

(7) any parole reports;

(8) the date and circumstances of final discharge; and any other pertinent data concerning the person's background, conduct, associations and family relationships as may be required . . ."

Unlike the medical records, the court does not see the relevancy of the plaintiff's entire master file. The plaintiff already has copies of any disciplinary reports and dispositions. He has his medical records, which are relevant to his medical claims. The court does not see what other information kept in the master file would be relevant to his claims, nor does the plaintiff try to explain. The plaintiff asserts that the defendants rely on the plaintiff's master file in their summary judgment motion, but he doesn't say which documents. Obviously, if the defendants rely on documents in the master file not otherwise produced, then they have now become part of the record and the plaintiff has access to them. In sum, the court agrees with the defendants that this request is overbroad and seeks irrelevant information or information that has already been produced. This request will therefore be denied.


The plaintiff seeks "[a]ll communications, e-mail, incident reports, and adjustment concerns from 2007 to the present." The defendants object as overly broad and irrelevant.

The plaintiff clarifies that he is seeking communications relevant to his claim, not all communications. He gives as an example Defendant Ruiz's asserted e-mail to the placement office regarding the plaintiff's need for a non-smoking cell, (see Ruiz's answer to plaintiff's second interrogatory, d/e 85), and McKee's answer that he was notified about the plaintiff's problems with the non-smoking cell, (see McKee's answer to interrogatory 11, d/e 85).

The plaintiff has phrased his request too broadly, but it does appear he is trying to obtain relevant evidence. The court will therefore limit the request to written communications or documents, including electronic communications and incident reports, generated from January 1, 2007 to December 31, ...

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