Monroe v. Bernsen et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiffs motion to compel discovery (Doc. 45) is sustained in that defendants, must provide plaintiff with a paper copy of documents described in categories (1), (2), (3), and (4) within 30 days of this date. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendants motion for a protective order (Doc. 46) is denied without prejudice. THE COURT REMINDS THE PARTIES THAT, PURSUANT TO THE CASE MANAGEMENT ORDER, ANY MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT MUST BE FILED NOT LATER THAN JUNE 1, 2016. Signed by Magistrate Judge David D. Noce on 3/25/2016. (KMS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
HERBERT L. BERNSEN,
LILLIE HOPKINS, MILTON MITCHELL,
JEANNE FITZGERALD, BRIAN DAVIS,
ALEXIS WOODS, and KAREN SANCHEZ
No. 4:15 CV 1049 DDN
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on (a) plaintiff’s pro se letter to the court requesting a
subpoena to obtain certain evidentiary materials from defendants (Doc. 45), and (b) defendants’
motion for a protective order (Doc. 46).
In his first amended complaint, plaintiff Jason Monroe seeks relief under 42 U.S.C. §
1983 for allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement in the St. Louis County Justice
Center. (Doc. 11.)
After initial review of plaintiff’s complaint, the court determined that
process should issue for the claims plaintiff brings against defendants Herbert Bernsen, Lillie
Hopkins, Milton Mitchell, Brian Davis, Alexis Woods, Jeanne Fitzgerald, and Karen Sanchez.
(Doc. 13.) These claims are organized as follows:
Count 1 against defendants Bernsen and Mitchell for conditions causing sleep deprivation, lack
of dental care, deprivation of sunlight, and the failure to receive certain magazines;
Count 2 against defendant Hopkins: for deprivation of the access to mail containing certain
Count 3 against defendant Davis: for retaliating against plaintiff by showing plaintiff’s grievance
to another inmate, thereby labeling plaintiff as a “snitch”;
Count 4 against defendant Woods: for retaliating against plaintiff, by having him fired from his
prison job, for filing grievances; and
Count 5 against defendant Fitzgerald and Sanchez for depriving plaintiff of access to the courts
by not providing him a proper law library, which resulted in his not being able to file a proper
claim for property seized during his arrest.
PLAINTIFF’S DISCOVERY REQUESTS
Plaintiff seeks the issuance of a subpoena to defendants for the production of six
categories of evidentiary materials. The court considers this a motion to compel production
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37. Castro v. United States, 540 U.S. 375, 381-82 (2003)
(a pro se litigant’s pleadings should be considered liberally). Plaintiff seeks 6 categories of
materials: (1) all grievances sent to, responses to grievances from, and plaintiff’s correspondence
with defendants Hopkins, Bernsen, and Mitchell, and a Ms. Childrey; (2) all copies of invoices
and purchase orders for light bulbs used for cell lighting between 2012 and 2015; (3) a copy of
plaintiff’s “inmate file,” including his sick call records, his medical records and his dental
records; (4) a copy of his inmate request forms, i.e. caseworker slips; (5) copies of all of Ms.
Sanchez’s inmate request lists from May to November 2015; and (6) contact information for exofficers Morris and Moe Lewis.
Defendants argue that plaintiff’s motion should be denied and they should be granted a
protective order shielding them from these discovery requests. Defendants also argue that
plaintiff has not provided them with discovery materials they requested from him; that his
requests are objectionable, because they are burdensome, oppressive, not relevant to his facts and
claims, not calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, prohibitively costly, and
would possibly violate the privacy rights and safety of other inmates. (Doc. 46.)
The court must compare plaintiff’s requests for production against the established
standard for pretrial discovery:
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
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1) (2015).
Applying this standard to plaintiff’s six requested categories of information, the court
concludes that defendants must produce:
Regarding category (1) copies only of the documentary grievances that plaintiff filed
while incarcerated in the St. Louis County Justice Center, the Justice Center’s dispositions of
these grievances, and all correspondence between plaintiff and defendants Hopkins, Bernsen, and
Mitchell, and Ms. Childrey regarding plaintiff’s grievances; and
Regarding category (2), copies of representative documents (not all documents in the
Justice Center’s possession) indicating the types of lighting used in the vicinity of the cells in
which plaintiff was housed; and
Regarding category (3), from defendant’s inmate file copies of plaintiff’s sick call
records, his medical records, and his dental records; and
Regarding category (4), copies of plaintiff’s inmate request forms and the Justice
Center’s documents responding thereto.
Regarding category (5), the court has not been provided any basis for concluding that all
of defendant Sanchez’s inmate request lists are relevant to plaintiff’s claims. This category of
information is denied. And regarding category (6), the court has not been provided any basis for
concluding that ex-officers Morris and Lewis have information relevant to plaintiff’s claims or
the defendants’ defenses. This category is also denied.
For the court to consider future requests for relief regarding pretrial discovery, the court
will require the parties to comply with Eastern District of Missouri Local Rule 3.04, which
requires the parties to attempt to settle their discovery disputes, before filing motions for relief.
The current papers before the court do not indicate they exhausted available opportunities to
confer by mail in an attempt to resolve such matters.
A pro se litigant is not permitted to ignore procedural requirements including the federal
rules of civil procedure and the local rules. Thomas v. Northern, No. 1:07 CV 114 CAS, 2008
WL 163562, at * 1 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 16, 2008) (citing Am. Inmate Paralegal Ass’n v. Cline, 859
F.2d 59, 61) (8th Cir. 1988)).
The Court understands that plaintiff cannot confer with
defendants’ attorneys by telephone or in person, but he can correspond with them by mail.
DEFENDANTS’ MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER
Defendants move for a protective order that protects them from having to produce paper
copies of the documents requested by plaintiff. Defendants also assert that they have provided
materials to plaintiff, but that he has failed to respond to their requests. Furthermore, defendants
assert that defense counsel has spoken to plaintiff’s mother and she is willing to make copies and
assist in plaintiff’s case. Therefore, they should be relieved of assisting plaintiff in making paper
copies of produced materials.
If plaintiff fails to comply with discovery requests, as defendants argue, defendants may
seek relief under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, after an appropriate effort to settle the
If plaintiff has not been truthful with the court on various matters.
Defendants may seek relief for such under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11(b).
Finally, defendants argue that plaintiff’s mother should suffice as an intermediary for
plaintiff regarding this litigation. Plaintiff’s mother is not a party to this lawsuit nor is she
plaintiff’s attorney. Nevertheless, she may facilitate plaintiff’s prosecution of this case in ways
that do not violate the law.
That said, defendants may not designate her as their agent for making copies of
documents for plaintiff. Because plaintiff is incarcerated, his access to electronic devices and
other methods of communication and copying of documents are necessarily limited. Therefore,
unless copying of discoverable material is unduly burdensome, defendants must provide it in
paper form to plaintiff.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that plaintiff’s motion to compel discovery (Doc. 45) is
sustained in that defendants, must provide plaintiff with a paper copy of documents described in
categories (1), (2), (3), and (4) within 30 days of this date.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that defendants’ motion for a protective order (Doc. 46)
is denied without prejudice.
THE COURT REMINDS THE PARTIES THAT, PURSUANT TO THE CASE
MANAGEMENT ORDER, ANY MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT MUST BE
FILED NOT LATER THAN JUNE 1, 2016.
/S/ David D. Noce
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Signed on March 25, 2016.
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