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Andrews v. Rauner

United States District Court, C.D. Illinois

June 18, 2019

KELLI ANDREWS, Plaintiff,
v.
BRUCE RAUNER, et al., Defendants.

          OPINION

          TOM SCHANZLE-HASKINS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery Responses From Government Defendants (d/e 50) (Motion). For the reasons set forth below, the Motion is ALLOWED in part and DENIED in part.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Kelli Andrews is the mother and administrator of the estate of her deceased daughter, Tiffany Rusher. Rusher was mentally ill. Rusher was incarcerated in the Defendant Illinois Department of Correction's (Department or IDOC) Logan Correctional Center (Logan) from March 2013 until May 2016. Andrews alleges that the Defendants knew Rusher needed inpatient mental health treatment, but consciously chose to deny her that care. Instead the Defendants subjected Rusher to repeated and extended periods of solitary confinement. The solitary confinement included eight months in a crisis cell under constant, around the clock observation. The crisis cell had only a metal toilet and a raised cement slab on which to sleep, but no furniture. While in the crisis cell Rusher had only a smock to wear with no other clothing. Andrews alleges that throughout the solitary confinement and confinement in the crisis cell, Rusher was not allowed to participate in services provided to other inmates. The lack of medical care, repeated solitary confinement, extended confinement in the crisis cell, and denial of participation in services at Logan is hereinafter referred to as the Mistreatment. Andrews alleges that the Mistreatment caused Rusher's mental condition to deteriorate and resulted in repeated episodes of self-harm and attempted suicides. See Complaint (d/e 1), ¶¶ 17-30.

         Andrews alleges claims against the individual Defendants former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, Acting Director of the Department John R. Baldwin, Department Central Regional Psychologist Supervisor Jeff Sim, Logan Chief Psychologist Dr. He Yuan, and Logan Mental Health Professional Brian Richardson; Wexford Health Sources, Inc. (Wexford), Department's contractor to provide medical care at Logan; and the Department. Complaint, ¶¶ 11-17. Andrews alleges § 1983 claims against Rauner, Baldwin, Sim, Yuan, Richardson, and Wexford for violation of Rusher's Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. Andrews brings the § 1983 claims against the individual Defendants in their individual capacities. Complaint, Count I. Andrews alleges claims against Rauner, Baldwin, and the Department for violations of Rusher's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12132 (Count II) and Rehabilitation Act (RA), 29 U.S.C. § 794 (Count III). Andrews brings the claims in Counts II and III against Rauner and Baldwin in their official capacities. Complaint Counts II and III. Current Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and current Department Director Rob Jeffreys are also proper party defendants to the claims brought against Rauner and Baldwin, respectively, in their official capacities. Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(d); see Response to Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery Responses (d/e 55), at 1 n.1. The State of Illinois (State) and the Department are the real Defendants in Counts II and III because actions against a state official in his official capacity is an action against the entity of which the officer is an agent. Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165-66 (1985). In this case, Governor Rauner was the highest official of the State, and Baldwin was the highest official in the Department.

         On December 6, 2019, Andrews propounded interrogatories and requests to produce on Defendants Baldwin, Pritzker, Rauner, the Department, and the State (Responding Defendants). On February 25, 2019 and March 11, 2019, the Responding Defendants responded and objected to some discovery requests. Andrews found the responses inadequate. The parties have communicated with each other regarding their differences and disputes regarding the discovery requests and the responses but have not resolved them. Andrews has, thus, brought this Motion. The Court addresses the disputed discovery requests below.

         INTERROGATORIES

         Interrogatory No. 2 to all Defendants

         Interrogatory No. 2 asked:

Identify by name and address all persons who have knowledge of facts that relate to any of the claims or defenses in this action, including but not limited to all persons who are not listed in Defendant's Rule 26 Initial Disclosures. If you answer this Interrogatory by incorporating Documents, please list under oath the identities of any and all additional persons not listed in these Documents, or, if there are no such additional Persons with knowledge responsive to the Interrogatory, please so state under oath.

         Motion, Exhibit 1, Plaintiff's December 6, 2019 Rule 33 Discovery to All Defendants (Interrogatories to All Defendants), Interrogatory No. 2.

         The Responding Defendants objected that the request was overly broad, unduly burdensome and not proportionate to the needs of the case. The Responding Defendants objected that it was unreasonably burdensome to make them try to identify every person who might have knowledge that may relate to any of the claims or defenses alleged in the Complaint. Motion, Exhibit 6, Defendants' Combined Objections to Plaintiff's December 6, 2018 Interrogatories (Interrogatory Objections), Objections to Interrogatory 6. The Responding Defendants then referred Andrews to the Defendants' initial disclosures and documents produced in discovery. Motion, Exhibit 7, Official Capacity Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's December 6, 2018 Interrogatories (Official Capacity Interrogatory Response), Response to Interrogatory 2; Motion, Exhibit 8, Defendant Baldwin's Response to Plaintiff's December 6, 2018 Interrogatories (Baldwin Interrogatory Response), Response to Interrogatory 2; Motion, Exhibit 9, Defendant Rauner's Response to Plaintiff's December 6, 2018 Interrogatories (Rauner Interrogatory Response), Response to Interrogatory 2. The documents included Rusher's personal prison file along with copies of Department written policies (Produced Documents). Motion, at 6.

         Providing documents in lieu of answers to an interrogatory is proper if the burden of securing the information from the documents is substantially the same for either party. Fed.R.Civ.P. 33(d). The Court finds that providing the documents was an appropriate way to answer the interrogatory with respect to responsive information that would reasonably be expected to be included in the Produced Documents. The Produced Documents relate to Rusher's medical treatment at Logan, including any mental health treatment.

         The Produced Documents would not be likely to contain responsive information related to other allegations in the Complaint. Andrews alleges § 1983 claims against Governor Rauner, Director Baldwin, and Chief Sim (Management Defendants) for causing Rusher to be subjected to the Mistreatment in violation of her rights. To prevail on such a claim against each Management Defendant, Andrews must show that: (1) each implemented policies and procedures at Logan that created a substantial risk that the Mistreatment would occur; (2) each personally knew that such policies and procedures at Logan created a substantial risk that the Mistreatment would occur; and (3) each acted with a sufficiently culpable state of mind, “[I]t is enough to show that the defendants knew of a substantial risk of harm to the inmate and disregarded the risk.” Roe v. Elyea, 631 F.3d 843, 857 (7th Cir. 2011) (quoting Greeno v. Daley, 414 F.3d 645, 653 (7th Cir. 2005)). The ADA and RA claims for damages against the Department and the State require proof that Department and the State were deliberately indifferent to subjecting Rusher to the Mistreatment. Andrews must prove that these Defendants knew a harm to a federally protected right was substantially likely and failed to act upon that likelihood. Lacy v. Cook County, 897 F.3d 847, 862-63 (7th Cir. 2018)

         The Produced Documents only concerned Rusher's treatment at Logan. The Produced Documents might be sufficient for the ADA and RA claims, but not the § 1983 claims. The Produced Documents are not likely to contain information regarding each Management Defendant's knowledge or intent.

         The Court, therefore, overrules the objections in part and directs the Responding Defendants to identify any individual who would have knowledge of whether any Management Defendants: (1) implemented policies and procedures at Logan affecting the treatment of mentally ill inmates; (2) personally knew whether policies and procedures at Logan affecting the treatment of mentally ill inmates created a substantial risk of harm to mentally ill inmates; and (3) disregarded the risk that such harm would occur. The individuals so identified in the additional response to this interrogatory required by this paragraph are hereinafter referred to the as the Supplemental Identified Individuals.

         Interrogatory 3 to all Defendants

         Interrogatory No. 3 asked:

For each Person with knowledge responsive to the previous Interrogatory, please describe with particularity any categories of facts known by each such Person relating to the claims or defenses in this action, including all categories of facts about which the Person may be competent to testify at trial. If this Interrogatory is answered by incorporating Documents, please state under oath whether there are any categories of facts known to any witness relating to the claims or defenses in this action which are not reflected in the Documents upon which you rely; in the event you fail to do so, Plaintiffs will assume the substance of the witnesses' testimony is strictly limited to what is contained in such Documents.

         Interrogatories to All Defendants, Interrogatory No. 3. The Responding Defendants objected that the interrogatory was vague, overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not proportional to the claims in this case. Interrogatory Objections, Response to Interrogatory 3. The Responding Defendants further referred Andrews to the Produced Documents. Official Capacity Interrogatory Response, Response to Interrogatory 3; Baldwin Interrogatory Response, Response to Interrogatory 3; Rauner Interrogatory Response, Response to Interrogatory 3.

         For the reasons stated in the analysis of Interrogatory No. 2, the documents would not be likely to provide responsive information with respect to the Supplemental Responsive Individuals. The Court, therefore, overrules the objection in part and directs the Defendants to provide the facts that each Supplemental Identified Individual has knowledge related to whether any Management Defendants: (1) implemented policies and procedures at Logan affecting the treatment of mentally ill inmates; (2) personally knew whether policies and procedures at Logan affecting the treatment of mentally ill inmates created a substantial risk of harm to mentally ill inmates; and (3) disregarded the risk that such harm would occur.

         Interrogatory 8 to All Defendants

         Interrogatory No. 8 asked:

Please state whether any Defendant or the employee or agent of any Defendant acted inconsistently with any of the policies and practices of the Logan Correctional Center, the [Department], or Wexford at any time during the events described in the complaint. If the answer is in the affirmative, please identify: (a) particular policy or practice that was violated; (b) the individual(s) who violated each such policy or practice; and (c) any discipline that resulted from that violation.

         Interrogatories to All Defendants, Interrogatory No. 8. The Responding Defendants objected because the interrogatory was overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not proportional to the needs of the case. Interrogatory Objections, Response to Interrogatory 8. The objection is sustained. The interrogatory asks about any employee or agent who acted inconsistently with any policy or practice of Logan, the Department, or Wexford at any time during the events described in the Complaint, presumably between March 2013 and May 2016. The Department, Logan, and Wexford have myriad policies and practices that are irrelevant to this case. Asking for detailed information about any violation of any such policy is clearly unduly burdensome and not proportionate to the needs of this case. The Responding Defendants' objections to Interrogatory No. 8 is sustained.

         Interrogatory No. 15

         Interrogatory No. 15 asked:

State the date on which you became aware that Illinois had no provision to provide hospital level mental health care to prisoners confined in the [Department].

         Interrogatories to All Defendants, Interrogatory No. 15. Responding Defendants objected because the phrase “hospital level mental health care” was vague, the interrogatory assumed that Illinois had made no such provision, the interrogatory was irrelevant and overbroad in time and scope, and the interrogatory was irrelevant. Interrogatory Objections, Response to Interrogatory 15. Andrews responded that the term “hospital level mental health care” should be given the same meaning as the term “Inpatient Mental Health Services” in the agreed upon consent order entered May 8, 2013 (Rasho Order) in the case of Rasho v. Walker, C. D. Ill. No. 07-1298 docket entry 132. Motion, Exhibit 10, Letter dated March 5, 2019 from Plaintiff's Counsel to Defense Counsel, at 7. Under the Rasho Order, the term “Inpatient Mental Health Services” means;

Intensive, inpatient hospitalization during the period when an offender's mental health needs exceed the treatment capabilities of IDOC. In such instances, offenders shall be returned to a less intensive treatment environment at the earliest clinically appropriate time.

         Rasho Order, at 2. The Responding Defendants did not respond further after Andrews' clarification of the term “hospital level mental health care.”

         Responding Defendants' vagueness objection is mooted by the clarification that “hospital level mental health care” has the same meaning as “Intensive Mental Health Services” in the Rasho Order. The Department is party to the Rasho case, agreed to the entry of the Rasho Order, and so, agreed to the definition of “Intensive Mental Health Services”.

         The interrogatory is relevant for purposes of discovery. Andrews must prove that each Management Defendant implemented policies that created a substantial risk that the Mistreatment would occur; knew the policies created that substantial risk; and had sufficient culpable intent. If a Management Defendant knew between March 2013 and May 2016 that Illinois had no provision to provide Intensive Mental Health Services to inmates in the custody of the Department, that fact may be relevant evidence or lead to relevant evidence to prove one or more of the elements of the claims against the Management Defendants. The relevance objection is overruled.

         The temporal objection is allowed in part. The period during which Andrews asserts Illinois had no provision to provide Intensive Mental Health Services to inmates confined in the Department should be limited to March 1, 2013 to May 31, 2016 to cover the period when Rusher was incarcerated in Logan.

         The objection that the interrogatory assumes facts is overruled. The individual Responding Defendants can respond even if the interrogatory assumes facts. The response would not need to constitute some kind of admission of Andrews' assertions of assumed facts in the interrogatory. Each Responding Defendant, other than the State or Department, can respond in a fashion substantially similar to the two examples below:

1. I am not aware that Illinois had no provision between March 2013 and May 2016 to provide Intensive Mental Health Services to ...

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