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Buechel v. United States

August 18, 2010

JOSEPH W. BUECHEL, PLAINTIFF,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Proud, Magistrate Judge.

ORDER

Before the Court is plaintiff Joseph W. Buechel's motion to compel the defendant to produce:

1. Meeting minutes, reports and other documents from FCI-Greenville's Infection Control meetings;

2. Meeting minutes, reports and other documents from FCI-Greenville's Quality Improvement Program regarding infection control policies; and

3. Documents relating to evaluations of FCI-Greenville's infection control or sanitation measures made by the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

(Doc. 69.) Plaintiff contends the requested information is relevant to his claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. § 2671 et seq., that plaintiff contracted Methicillin-resistant Stahylococcus Aureus infection (MRSA) due to the defendant's negligence.

The defendant asserts that:

1. The requested information and documents fall beyond the claims as framed by the administrative claim and the complaint, which has not been amended by newly appointed counsel;

2. The requested information and documents are privileged under the Illinois Medical Studies Act, 735 ILCS 5/8-2101 et seq.;

3. Barring consent or a court order, the Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a, forbids disclosure of the requested information and documents; and

4. Institutional security concerns militate against disclosure.

(Doc. 73.)

Plaintiff counters that the requested information and documents are relevant to the negligence claim; and the Illinois Medical Studies Act is inapplicable to a FTCA claim. (Docs. 69 and 74.)

As a preliminary matter, 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. With that said, the fact that information may be discoverable does not necessarily mean that it will ultimately be admissible, or that the scope of the complaint is being broadened. Consistent with the broad view of relevance for purposes of discovery, the relevant time period is 2005-2007, capturing the year before and the year following plaintiff's infection with MRSA. Plaintiff has not exceeded ...


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