United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
J. DALY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
the Court are several motions relating to discovery and
scheduling matters. Merritte is an inmate with the Illinois
Department of Corrections (“IDOC”) and he is
currently located at Hill Correctional Center. Merritte
proceeds on a three count amended complaint (Doc. 13) against
18 defendants and “Unknown IDOC Staff.” The
complaint presents broad, somewhat vague allegations, but in
general terms Merritte presents an Eight Amendment failure to
protect claim (Count 1), a First Amendment retaliation claim
for filing grievances (Count 3), and a First Amendment claim for
destroying documents / denying access to the Courts (Count
4). The claims concern actions that have occurred at multiple
IDOC facilities, including Lawrence Correctional Center,
Stateville Correctional Center and Pinckneyville Correctional
Center. Merritte specifically states that in 2014 he was
almost killed by an inmate named Rodriguez, and in late 2014
he was placed in a cell with a dangerous mentally ill inmate.
Merritte initially filed suit with co-plaintiff Leondous
Coleman, but Coleman's claims were later severed into a
separate lawsuit. (Doc. 29).
now to the pending motions, plaintiff Calvin Merritte has
filed a motion to compel discovery (Doc. 97) and a motion for
hearing on the motion compel. (Doc. 100). The IDOC defendants
have filed a response in opposition to the motion to compel.
(Doc. 99). The Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
(“Wexford”) defendants filed a response as well.
Upon review of these documents, Merritte's motion for
hearing (Doc. 101) is denied; the discovery disputes will be
addressed without a hearing. The motion to compel (Doc. 97)
is granted in part and denied in part as follows. The
defendants are ordered to supplement their responses no later
than May 9, 2017.
motion to compel concerns various requests for production and
requests for admissions he has served on the IDOC defendants.
The first discovery dispute concerns Merritte's Requests
for Production numbered 1 and 9 (RFP #1 and RFP #9). In those
requests Merritte seeks inmate grievances filed by Merritte
and other prisoners in the IDOC system. Merritte seeks the
production of all of the grievances he has filed from
November 22, 2011 until late 2016, along with grievance
appeals and applicable grievance logs (RFP #1). He then makes
a blanket request for grievances filed by four other IDOC
inmates “and other IDOC prisoners” from 2008
until 2016 (RFP# 9). The defendants state that they provided
Merritte's protective custody related grievances in
response to RFP #1. The defendants however, object to RFP #9
on the basis that the request is “overly broad in time
and scope, unduly burdensome, irrelevant, and not
proportional to the needs of the case.”
scope of discovery in civil matters is set forth in Rule 26
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Rule 26(b)(1)
Scope in General. 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 this scope of discovery need not be
admissible in evidence to be discoverable.
the IDOC defendants' objection to RFP #9 is sustained.
This lawsuit is not a class action, and therefore the burden
of producing grievances (along with the potential security
risk) from other inmates within the IDOC system outweighs the
potential benefit. The IDOC defendants' objection to RFP
#1 is overruled to the extent that they need to produce any
protective custody related grievances filed by Merritte from
November 22, 2011 through 2016, if they have not already done
RFP #2 requests all grievance procedures implemented by IDOC
from 2011 until the present. The defendants produced the
inmate handbooks for Western, Lawrence and Pinckneyville
Correctional Centers. The defendants also directed Merritte
to IDOC regulations at 20 Ill. Admin. Code § 504.830.
Merritte is dissatisfied with this response because he states
that he is unable to obtain those regulations from the prison
law library. To expeditiously resolve this issue, the
defendants are directed to provide Merritte with a copy of
the regulations set forth at 20 Ill. Admin. Code §§
504.800 - 504.870, or contact Merritte's prison law
library to ensure that the documents are made available to
#3, Merritte requests all of his prison medical records from
2008 to the present. The defendants produced his records from
February 2014 through the date of response (late 2016), and
they note that plaintiff's alleged physical altercation
occurred in August, 2014. Merritte seeks to compel the
production of the older records (from 2008 onwards) that the
defendants did not produce, in order to show that he was in
good health prior to the 2014 Rodriguez assault incident.
Merritte presents a legitimate argument as to relevance, and
the defendants are therefore ordered to produce
plaintiff's medical records from 2012 through 2014, to
the extent they have not already been produced.
Merritte seeks to compel the defendants to respond to RFP #6,
which requests “Any and all policies and directives,
administrative codes, rules and regulations, customs,
practices, memos, bulletins or warden bulletins, etc.
regarding medical services and procedures in IDOC applicable
to Plaintiff from November 22, 2011 until the date of the
response to this request …” The defendants
object to this request as “vague in its entirety,
” among other objections, and refer Merritte to 20 Ill.
Admin. Code § 415.10, et seq. The
defendants' objections are sustained. This request is
vague and wildly overbroad. Merritte's RFP #7 is similar
to the preceding request for production, but instead of
“medical services and procedures” he requests
documents related to “disciplinary procedures.”
Again, this request is vague and overbroad; the
defendants' objections are sustained. However, the
defendants are directed to provide Merritte with the relevant
regulations, or ensure that the regulations are available in
his prison law library.
also seeks to compel the defendants to respond to RFP #8, in
which Merritte requests, “Any and all offender tracking
system information regarding Plaintiff from November 22, 2011
until the date of the response…” The defendants
object on the basis that the request is “vague, unduly
burdensome, overbroad in time and scope, irrelevant, and not
proportional to the needs of the case.” The defendants
also object on the basis of safety and security concerns. The
defendants' objections are overruled to the extent that
they must provide Merritte with his transfer summary sheet,
or other document detailing Merritte's cell location
history. The defendants' objections are sustained in all
#10 Merritte requests documents detailing whether the
defendants have been subject to IDOC disciplinary action on
the basis of staff misconduct. The defendants state that no
such documents exist; the defendants' objections are
RFPs #11 - 13 seek information regarding inmate Oscar
Rodriguez and the Latin Kings gang. The defendants object to
these requests on the basis that they are vague and that the
release of the documents may pose a security risk. The Court
agrees that the release of information concerning prison
security threat groups and enemy gang members poses serious
security concerns. The defendants' objections are
last request for production in dispute is #14, which
requests, “Any and all statistics of inmate deaths and
inmate assaults in IDOC from September 2008 until the date of
the response to this request.” The defendants produced
inmate assault and death statistics from 2013 through 2016.
Merritte seeks to compel the defendants to produce the older
years, but the Court finds ...