Burfitt v. Bear et al
OPINION AND ORDER denying 62 Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery and for Telephonic Hearing. Signed by Magistrate Judge Stephanie K. Bowman on 2/6/2017. (km) (This document has been sent by regular mail to the party(ies) listed in the NEF that did not receive electronic notification.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
LAWRENCE R. BURFITT,
Case No. 1:15-CV-730
SGT. BEAR, et al.,
OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, a prisoner who proceeds pro se, initiated this litigation on November 12,
2015, alleging that multiple Defendants have violated his constitutional rights while he
has been incarcerated at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
complaint alleged that he was placed in a K-4, RTU block for severely mentally ill
inmates for no justifiable reason. Plaintiff complained about several incidents that
allegedly took place in February or March of 2015, in which Plaintiff alleged he was
verbally and physically assaulted, that the water in his cell was turned off and dinner
trays were refused. Plaintiff also raised claims regarding incidents that allegedly
occurred in early May, 2015, during and shortly after a Rules Infraction Board (“RIB”)
hearing, in which Plaintiff asserts he was again physically assaulted, his water turned
off, and meals refused. Plaintiff’s initial complaint sought punitive and compensatory
damages as well as injunctive relief.
Upon initial review, the Court dismissed multiple claims against six Defendants,
but permitted Plaintiff to proceed with a claim of excessive force and a failure to protect
claim in violation of the Eighth Amendment against five Defendants. (Docs. 5, 11). The
Court later dismissed all claims against two of the five Defendants. Therefore, the only
Eighth Amendment claims that remain are asserted against Defendants Bear, Sgt.
Sammons, and Sgt. Felts concerning two incidents alleged to have occurred on March
27, 2015 while Plaintiff was in Sgt. Bear’s office, and on May 7, 2015, in an RIB hearing
“interviewing room” in which Sgt. Sammons and Sgt. Felts were both present. (Docs.
On October 6, 2016, the undersigned denied as “unduly burdensome, onerous,
vague, ambiguous, overly broad and largely unintelligible” the majority of requests
contained in a prior construed motion to compel discovery filed by Plaintiff. (Doc. 60 at
3). In that Order, the Court also cautioned Plaintiff for a second time that his pro se
status does not excuse full compliance with the rules of civil procedure, including Local
Rule 37.1 and Rule 37 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (See Docs. 60, 53).
Analysis of Motion To Compel Discovery and for Hearing
On November 7, 2016, Plaintiff filed a new motion to compel Defendants to
produce to him all mental health records, including but not limited to those that may
relate to his transfer to SOCF from his prior institution (OSP), and any records
concerning his current mental health classification, medications, and treatment.
Plaintiff’s motion also seeks a telephonic hearing to address his pending motion.
The request for a hearing will be denied, because the parties have adequately briefed
all relevant issues.
Defendants’ response in opposition to Plaintiff’s motion asserts that he failed to
strictly comply with LR 37.1 and Rule 37, because he did not include a certification of
the exhaustion of Plaintiff’s extra-judicial attempts to resolve the dispute with opposing
counsel. Instead, Plaintiff’s motion only demonstrates that Plaintiff has attempted to
obtain his mental health records from prison officials, using institutional “kites.”
Defendants’ response also opposes the requested production of Plaintiffs’ mental
health records on the merits. The undersigned agrees that a discovery request for
mental health records does not appear relevant to the limited remaining excessive force
claims asserted by Plaintiff.
Construing Plaintiff’s motion to compel very liberally,
Plaintiff appears to seek the records for some pre-emptive (and highly speculative)
purpose, presumably to defend against any future claims by Defendants that any use of
force was justified due to Plaintiff’s alleged mental health diagnosis.
Discovery is now closed, and any dispositive motions must be filed by February
28, 2017. At this point, it does not appear that the requested records have any bearing
upon any claim or defense in this lawsuit. The Court may reconsider only if any future
dispositive motion filed by Defendants actually calls into question the relevance of
Plaintiff’s mental health records. Because the records have no apparent relevance at
this time, the undersigned finds it unnecessary to reach Defendants’ alternative
argument that, as correctional officers, they have no access to the requested mental
Conclusion and Order
For the reasons stated, IT IS ORDERED THAT Plaintiff’s motion to compel
discovery and for a telephonic hearing (Doc. 62) is DENIED.
/s Stephanie K. Bowman
Stephanie K. Bowman
United States Magistrate Judge
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