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Buechel v. United States

August 18, 2010

JOSEPH W. BUECHEL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Clifford J. Proud U.S. Magistrate Judge

ORDER

Before the Court is plaintiff Joseph W. Buechel's motion for entry of a protective order in accordance with the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a. (Doc. 67.) Plaintiff has sought and will seek certain information that implicates the privacy of non-parties to this case who are inmates at FCI-Greenville and which may reveal their exposure to MRSA. Defendant objects to the scope of the material that should be made available to plaintiff, arguing that, by the terms of the complaint, only information-- and limited information at that-- relating to Joe Hanson (or "Hansen" as the case may be) is relevant and discoverable relative to plaintiff's exposure to MRSA. (Doc. 68.) In reply, plaintiff notes that the complaint was prepared when he was proceeding pro se, and that he should be permitted some latitude in discovery. (Doc. 70.)

The defendant's view of discovery is too narrow and inconsistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1). The Supreme Court has interpreted relevance broadly to include any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case. Oppenheimer Fund, Inc., v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978). Furthermore, in accordance with Santiago v. Walls, 599 F.3d 749 (7th Cir. 2010), counsel was appointed to ensure that this action was properly litigated because plaintiff was found incapable of adequately representing himself; therefore, plaintiff's appointed counsel will not now be strictly constrained by the original pleadings.

IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that, in accordance with the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, and for good cause shown, plaintiff's motion for entry of a protective order and for Court authorization of the disclosure of:

(1) the log created by the Health Services department at FCI-Greenville containing the names of all inmates who testified positive for MRSA in the year 2006;

(2) the complete medical records of inmate Joseph Hansen for the relevant time period; and

(3) records relating to the work history and cell assignments of non-party inmates at FCI-Greenville during the relevant time period (Doc. 67) is GRANTED.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, to ensure that such material is kept confidential and is not used for any purpose other than discovery and trial preparation in this case, the parties shall comply with the following:

1. This Order shall apply to and govern the handling of all documents/electronic documents, deposition testimony and other information, including all copies, excerpts, and summaries thereof (hereinafter referred to as "Material") that is designated "Confidential" in accordance with paragraph 2 of this Order, and is produced, given or filed during discovery and other proceedings prior to trial of this action. This Order shall not apply at any trial of this matter and for that purpose, to the extent necessary, issues of confidentiality at trial will be addressed separately.

2. The following Material shall be designated "Confidential": (1) the log created by the Health Services department at FCI-Greenville containing the names of all inmates who testified positive for MRSA in the year 2006; (2) the complete medical records of inmate Joseph Hansen for the relevant time period; (3) records relating to the work history and cell assignments of non-party inmates at FCI-Greenville during the relevant time period.

3. Material designated "Confidential" shall be maintained in confidence by the attorneys for the party to whom such Material is produced and shall not be produced to Plaintiff or disclosed in writing to Plaintiff, and will not be disclosed to any other person except:

(a) the Court and its officers;

(b) counsel;

(c) employees of ...


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