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Eastman v. Santos

United States District Court, S.D. Illinois

August 29, 2019

JEFFREY H. EASTMAN, Plaintiff,
v.
VENERIO SANTOS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          HON. REONA J. DALY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         Plaintiff Jeffrey H. Eastman, an inmate in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections (“IDOC”), filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging his constitutional rights were violated while he was incarcerated at Centralia Correctional Center (“Centralia”). Relevant to his claims pending in this matter, Plaintiff alleges he suffers from a congenital deformity that causes his bones and ankles to become misaligned and collapse when bearing weight. This condition causes Plaintiff pain and difficulty walking. These issues are only alleviated when Plaintiff wears braces that hold his ankles and feet in alignment. Plaintiff is proceeding in this action on the following claims (as enumerated in the Court's screening order at Doc. 7):

Count Three: Santos, Mueller, Kink, Stock, Krebs, Downes, Johnson, McAbee, Walker, Zelasko, Webman, and Lahr showed deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical need involving a deformity and arthritis in his feet and pain associated therewith in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Count Five: IDOC violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act by failing to accommodate Plaintiff's needs related to a deformity and arthritis in his feet.

         This matter is before the Court to address the following motions:

• Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint (Doc. 93)
• Plaintiff's Complaint to the Court and Motion (Request) for Intervention (Doc. 95)
• Plaintiff's Request for Subpoena of Documents (Doc. 96)
• Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 101)
• Plaintiff's Motion Requesting Assistance in taking Depositions (Doc. 102)
• Plaintiff's Motion for Recruitment of Counsel (Doc. 106)
• Plaintiff's Motion for Extension of Time for Discovery and Dispositive Motions (Doc. 107)
• Plaintiff's Motion to Toll Proceedings to Resolve Issues (Doc. 110)
• Plaintiff's Motion for Issuance of Subpoenas (Doc. 111)
• IDOC Defendants' Motion for Protective Order (Doc. 116)
• IDOC Defendants' Motion to Amend the Scheduling Order (Doc. 128)
• Plaintiff's Motion to Toll Deadline for Dispositive Motions Until All Discovery is Resolved and Received (Doc. 131)
• Plaintiff's Motion for Leave of Court to File Amended Complaint (Second) at Close of Discovery/Resolutions (Doc. 134)
• Defendant Santos' Joinder in Motion to Amend the Scheduling Order (Doc. 135)
• IDOC Defendants' Motion for Extension of Time to File a Dispositive Motion (Doc. 137)

         The Court has reviewed the aforementioned motions and any responses thereto and sets forth its rulings as follow.

         1. Plaintiff's Request for Leave of Court to File Amended Complaint (Doc. 93)

         In this motion, Plaintiff seeks leave to amend his complaint to add Dr. Stephen Ritz as a defendant. In his proposed amended complaint, Plaintiff alleges Dr. Ritz acted with deliberate indifference to his medical condition in denying him access to a specialist and proper care on April 30, 2018 during a collegial review with Dr. Santos.

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a) provides that a party may amend a pleading and that leave to amend should be freely given "when justice so requires." The Seventh Circuit maintains a liberal attitude toward the amendment of pleadings "so that cases may be decided on the merits and not on the basis of technicalities." Stern v. U.S. Gypsum, Inc., 547 F.2d 1329, 1334 (7th Cir. 1977). The Circuit recognizes that "the complaint merely serves to put the defendant on notice and is to be freely amended or constructively amended as the case develops, as long as amendments do not unfairly surprise or prejudice the defendant." Toth v. USX Corp., 883 F.2d 1297, 1298 (7th Cir. 1989). A court may also deny a party leave to amend if there is undue delay, dilatory motive or futility. Guise v. BMW Mortgage, LLC, 377 F.3d 795, 801 (7th Cir. 2004).

         Although filed beyond the Court's deadline of December 21, 2018 for seeking leave to amend, there is no apparent undue delay in Plaintiff's filing. Indeed, Plaintiff asserts that he was not aware of Dr. Ritz's involvement with his medical care until Defendant Santos responded to Plaintiff's interrogatories on March 15, 2019. Moreover, to be disqualifying, delay “must be coupled with some other reason” - typically, prejudice to the nonmoving party. Dubicz v. Commonwealth Edison Co., 377 F.3d 787, 793 (7th Cir. 2004). The Court finds no undue prejudice to Defendants in this circumstance. Indeed, Defendants have not responded to Plaintiff's motion. Because the Court finds Plaintiff's proposed amendments are neither unduly delayed nor futile or brought with dilatory motive, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED.

         Plaintiff shall now proceed in this action on the following claims (the enumeration of the counts as set forth below shall be used by the Court and the parties for the remainder of this litigation):

Count One: Santos, Mueller, Kink, Stock, Krebs, Downes, Johnson, McAbee, Walker, Zelasko, Webman, Lahr, and Dr. Ritz showed deliberate indifference to Plaintiff's serious medical need involving a deformity and arthritis in his feet and pain associated therewith in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
Count Two: IDOC violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act by failing to accommodate Plaintiff's needs related to a deformity and arthritis in his feet.

         The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to file Plaintiff's proposed amended complaint as the First Amended Complaint. The Clerk of Court shall prepare for Defendant Dr. Stephen Ritz: (1) Form 5 (Notice of a Lawsuit and Request to Waive Service of Summons), and (2) Form 6 (Waiver of Service of Summons). The Clerk is DIRECTED to mail these forms, a copy of the First Amended Complaint, and this Order to Defendant's place of employment as identified by Plaintiff. If Defendant fails to sign and return the Waiver of Service of Summons (Form 6) to the Clerk within 30 days from the date the forms were sent, the Clerk shall take appropriate steps to effect formal service on Defendant, and the Court will require Defendant to pay the full costs of formal service, to the extent authorized by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Plaintiff shall serve upon Defendant (or upon defense counsel once an appearance is entered), a copy of every further pleading or other document submitted for consideration by the Court. Plaintiff shall include with the original paper to be filed a certificate of service stating the date on which a true and correct copy of any document was served on Defendant or counsel. Any paper received by a district judge or magistrate judge that has not been filed with the Clerk or that fails to include a certificate of service will be disregarded by the Court.

         2. Plaintiff's Complaint to the Court and Request for Intervention (Doc. 95)

         In this motion, construed by the Court as a motion to compel, Plaintiff complains that Defendant Santos failed to properly respond to his second set of “interrogatories/admissions/productions.” Plaintiff sets forth two general issues with Defendant Santos' responses. First, Plaintiff contends Santos improperly retitled his requests as only interrogatories so as to avoid responding to any admission requests. Second, Plaintiff contends Santos avoided answering his questions by merely referring to his medical records, which, Plaintiff asserts, are not legible. Plaintiff requests a hearing so Defendants “can explain themselves, and how their objections are necessary.” Plaintiff also requests a “resolution for all objections.”

         In response to Plaintiff's motion, Defendant Santos asserts that Plaintiff failed to meet and confer regarding his issues, in contravention of this Court's order (see Doc. 57). Santos also contends that he did not provide responses to any requests to admit as the requests were not filed with the Court in accordance with Local Rule 26(b)(1). Santos further asserts that he responded substantively to each request. Finally, Santos asserts that in regards to the readability of Plaintiff's medical records, it is not clear which item of discovery Plaintiff could not discern. Santos indicates this issue could be addressed in a meet-and-confer.

         Plaintiff's Motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. The Court has reviewed Defendant Santos' responses to Plaintiff's second set of “interrogatories/admissions/productions.” The Court finds Santos' responses to the requests were appropriate; however, Santos failed to respond to the portion of the requests that sought admissions. While the Court acknowledges that Local Rule 26.1(b) provides that requests to admit shall be filed with the Clerk of Court, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 5(d) dictates that requests for admissions must not be filed with the Court and the Advisory Committee Notes on the relevant provision explain that the rule “supersedes and invalidates local rules that forbid, permit, or requiring filing” of requests for admissions. As such, Defendant Santos is ORDERED to provide responses to Plaintiff's requests to admit by September 30, 2019[1] . Plaintiff is ADVISED that interrogatories, requests to admit, and requests to produce should be served separately to avoid confusion. The Court will require this moving forward.

         Insofar as Plaintiff contends he cannot read certain portions of his medical records, he is DIRECTED to meet-and-confer with Defendant to address this issue.

         3. Plaintiff's Request for Subpoena of Documents (Doc. 96)

         In this motion, Plaintiff asks that the Court subpoena certain documents from Wexford Health. Plaintiff indicates he does not know how to fill out a subpoena form and he cannot proceed on certain claims in his complaint without the documents he seeks. Plaintiff's request is DENIED. The Court cannot engage in the practice of law to benefit a party. Plaintiff may subpoena the records he seeks on his own. To assist Plaintiff in this endeavor, the Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to provide Plaintiff with one subpoena form (AO88B), blank and unsigned. Plaintiff shall complete the form and submit it to the Court for review. Plaintiff shall take appropriate steps to avoid imposing undue burden or expense on a person subject to the subpoena. Plaintiff is ADVISED to review Rule 45 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

         4. Plaintiff's Motion to Compel (Doc. 101)

         Plaintiff sets forth numerous issues concerning Defendants' responses to his discovery request in this motion. Insofar as Plaintiff reiterates the issues set forth in his motion to compel at Doc. 95, said issues have been addressed and will not be set forth again. The Court addresses Plaintiff's issues concerning the following requests and responses:

         Venerio Santos, M.D.'s Answers to Interrogatories (see Doc. 101-1 at 1-7):

         1. Plaintiff complains that Santos' objection to interrogatory #1 is vague and asserts Santos failed to state specifically how the request meets the criteria to his objection. Plaintiff also indicates he does not know what a protective order is or how to file one. The Court has reviewed Defendant's response and finds it to be appropriate. Issues concerning a protective order will be addressed by the Court in reference to Defendants' motion for protective order. The Court also notes that it is appropriate for Defendant to object to a request while also providing a substantive response subject to his objections. Plaintiff's request to compel a supplemental response to this interrogatory is DENIED.

         2. Plaintiff complains that Santos' response to interrogatory #2 is improper as it was a request to admit that Santos treated as an interrogatory. Plaintiff further suggests that Defendant's objection was vague and he failed to fully answer the request. Plaintiff's motion to compel a supplemental response to this interrogatory is DENIED. Defendant fully and adequately responded to the questions posed. Defendant need not respond to this as a request to admit as it was not served as a request to admit and is included amongst only interrogatories.

         3. Plaintiff complains that Santos' objection to interrogatory #6 is vague and does not specify how the request meets the objective criteria. The Court sustains Defendant's objection. Defendant has adequately responded and objected to this request. Plaintiff's motion to compel a supplemental response to this interrogatory is DENIED.

         4. Plaintiff complains that Santos' objection to interrogatory #7 is vague and does not specify how the request meets the objective criteria. Plaintiff also complains that Santos refers Plaintiff to his medical records, which is not what the request sought. Defendant has adequately responded and objected to this request. Plaintiff's motion to compel a supplemental response to this interrogatory is DENIED. Insofar as Plaintiff cannot read the dates on which he was prescribed pain medication in his medical records, he is directed to meet-and-confer with Defendant.

         5. Plaintiff complains that Santos' objection to interrogatory #8 is vague and does not specify how the request meets the objective criteria. Defendant has adequately responded and objected to this request. Plaintiff's motion to compel a supplemental response to this interrogatory is DENIED.

         Defendant Mueller's, Kink's, Stock's, Kreb's, Johnson's McAbee's, Downes', Walker's, Zelasko's, Wegman's, and Lahr's Responses to Plaintiff's First Request for Production of Documents (see Doc. 101-1 at 8-16):

         1. Plaintiff complains that Defendants' objection to request #1 is vague and does not specify how it meets the objective criteria. Plaintiff also contends that the items requested cannot be found in the areas Defendants claim. Defendants stand by their objections and also indicate they are not in possession of any such communications. Defendants have adequately responded and objected to this request. Plaintiff's motion to compel a supplemental response to this request to produce is DENIED.

         2. Plaintiff complains that Defendants' objection to request #2 is vague and does not specify how it meets the objective criteria. Defendants stand by their objections and also indicate they are not in possession of any such communications. Defendants have adequately responded and objected to this request. Plaintiff's motion to compel a supplemental response to this request to produce is DENIED.

         3. Plaintiff complains that Defendants' objection to request #3 is vague and does not specify how it meets the objective criteria. Plaintiff also contends that the items requested cannot be found in the areas Defendants claim. Defendants stand by their objections and also indicate they are not in possession of any such communications. Defendants have adequately responded and objected to this request. Plaintiff's motion to compel a supplemental response to this request to produce is DENIED.

         4. Plaintiff complains that Defendants' objection to request #4 is vague and does not specify how it meets the objective criteria. Defendants stand by their objections and also indicate they are not in possession of any such communications. Defendants have adequately responded and objected to this request. Plaintiff's motion to compel a supplemental response to this request to produce is DENIED.

         5. Plaintiff complains that Defendants' objection to request #5 is vague and does not specify how it meets the objective criteria. Plaintiff also asserts that x-ray images are only kept in the radiology department, not in medical records, and photographs are held at Taylorville Correctional Center by internal affairs and also cannot be found in the medical records. Plaintiff's motion to compel a supplemental response to this request to produce is GRANTED IN PART. Defendants shall provide a supplemental response and provide any photographs and/or copies of x-rays contained in Plaintiff's IDOC medical records of Plaintiff's feet and ankles taken since he has been in the custody of the IDOC (if any) by September 13, 2019.

         6. Plaintiff complains that Defendants' objection to request #6 is vague and does not specify how it meets the objective criteria. Defendants stand on their objections. Defendants have adequately responded and objected to this request. Plaintiff's motion to compel a supplemental response to this request to produce is DENIED.

         7. Plaintiff complains that Defendants' objection to request #7 is vague and does not specify how it meets the objective criteria. Defendants stand on their objections. Defendants' objection was appropriate. Plaintiff's motion to compel a supplemental response to this request to produce is DENIED.

         8. Plaintiff complains that Defendants' objection to request #9 is vague and does not specify how it meets the objective criteria. Defendants stand on their objections. Defendants' objection was appropriate. Plaintiff's motion to compel a supplemental response to this request to produce is DENIED.

         9. Plaintiff complains that Defendants' objection to request #10 is vague and does not specify how it meets the objective criteria. Plaintiff also complains that the medical records are not legible. Defendants stand on their objections. Defendants' objection was appropriate. Defendants are not required to provide Plaintiff's medical records in a typed ...


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