Tipton v. Ohio Health Grady Memorial Hospital et al
OPINION AND ORDER granting in part and denying in part 54 Motion to Compel; granting 56 Motion for Protective Order; granting 59 Motion for Extension of Time. Discovery due by 6/10/2022. Plaintiff's forthcoming memorandum in opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment is due ON OR BEFORE JUNE 24, 2022. Signed by Magistrate Judge Chelsey M. Vascura on 5/10/2022. (agm)(This document has been sent by regular mail to the party(ies) listed in the NEF that did not receive electronic notification.)
Case: 2:20-cv-04843-SDM-CMV Doc #: 64 Filed: 05/10/22 Page: 1 of 6 PAGEID #: 772
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF OHIO
GARY W. TIPTON,
Case No. 2:20-cv-4843
Judge Sarah D. Morrison
Magistrate Judge Chelsey M. Vascura
OHIOHEALTH GRADY MEMORIAL
OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff, Gary Tipton, an Ohio inmate who is proceeding without counsel, brings this
action against Defendant, OhioHealth Corporation d/b/a Grady Memorial Hospital, under the
Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd. (Pl’s
2d. Am. Compl., ECF No. 32.) This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel
(ECF No. 54) and Defendant’s Response in Opposition and Motion for a Protective Order (ECF
No. 56). This matter is further before the Court on Plaintiff’s unopposed Motion to Extend the
Scheduling Order (ECF No. 59). For the following reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel is
GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART, Defendant’s Motion for a Protective Order is
GRANTED, and Plaintiff’s Motion to Extend the Scheduling Order is GRANTED.
The Court’s August 26, 2021 Order and Report and Recommendation (ECF No. 37,
report and recommendation adopted, ECF No. 38) sets forth the factual background, which the
undersigned incorporates by reference.
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Through written discovery, Plaintiff requested that Defendant produce “[c]omplete
policies, procedures, and protocols for patients and doctors while under the care of OhioHealth
Grady Memorial Hospital,” as well as all policies relating to suicidal patients, hospital tools, and
patients performing procedures. (ECF No. 54-1 at PAGEID ## 310–11.) Defendant objected to
these requests as overbroad, unduly burdensome, lacking relevance, and confidential.
In the subject Motion to Compel, Plaintiff narrows his request to seek policies relating to
suicidal patients, hospital tools, and patients performing procedures. Defendant acknowledges
that policies and procedures relating to standard screening procedures may be relevant to
Plaintiff’s EMTALA screening claim, but continues to object to any broader scope of policies
and further maintains that because its policies and procedures are confidential and proprietary, it
cannot produce them in the absence of a protective order.
In his Motion to Extend the Case Schedule, Plaintiff seeks a thirty-day extension of the
discovery deadline, citing mental health issues and limited access to the law library. Defendant
has not opposed Plaintiff’s requested extension.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), which sets forth the permissible scope of
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
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).
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Determining the scope of discovery is within the Court’s discretion. Bush v. Dictaphone
Corp., 161 F.3d 363, 367 (6th Cir. 1998). As the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth
Circuit has recognized, “[t]he scope of discovery under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is
traditionally quite broad.” Lewis v. ACB Bus. Serv., Inc., 135 F.3d 389, 402 (6th Cir. 1998).
However, revisions to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 2015 “encourage judges to be
more aggressive in identifying and discouraging discovery overuse.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 26,
Advisory Committee Notes to the 2015 Amendment. “The proportionality standard is the
instrument by which judges and practitioners are to bring about a change in the culture of
discovery, requiring lawyers, with the guidance of involved judges, to ‘size and shape their
discovery requests to the requisites of a case.’” Waters v. Drake, 222 F. Supp. 3d 582, 605 (S.D.
Ohio 2016) (quoting Chief Justice Roberts, 2015 Year-End Report on the Federal Judiciary, at
“[T]he proponent of a motion to compel discovery bears the initial burden of proving that
the information sought is relevant.” Guinn v. Mount Carmel Health Sys., No. 2:09-cv-226, 2010
WL 2927254, at *5 (S.D. Ohio July 23, 2010) (quoting Clumm v. Manes, No. 2:08-cv-567, 2010
WL 2161890 (S.D. Ohio May 27, 2010)); see also Berryman v. Supervalu Holdings, Inc., No.
3:05-cv-169, 2008 WL 4934007, at *9 (S.D. Ohio Nov. 18, 2008) (“At least when the relevance
of a discovery request has been challenged the burden is on the requester to show the relevance
of the requested information.” (internal citation omitted)). However, the burden to demonstrate
that the requested discovery would be disproportional to the needs of the case rests with the
objecting party. Bros. Trading Co. v. Goodman Factors, No. 1:14-CV-975, 2016 WL 9781140,
at *2 (S.D. Ohio Mar. 2, 2016) (“Rule 26(b)(1) does not place the burden of addressing
proportionality considerations on the requesting party; nor does it permit the opposing party to
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avoid responding simply by making a boilerplate objection on grounds of proportionality”)
(quoting Fed. R. Civ. P 26, Advisory Committee Notes to the 2015 Amendment).
The Court concludes that Plaintiff’s requests, even as narrowed, remain
overbroad. As discussed in the Court’s August 26, 2021 Order and Report and
Recommendation, Plaintiff has advanced both screening and stabilization claims under
EMTALA. With respect to Plaintiff’s screening claim, the Sixth Circuit has held
EMTALA requires a hospital emergency room to provide the “screening the hospital
would have offered to any paying patient.” Cleland v. Bronson Health Care Grp., Inc.,
917 F.2d 266, 268 (6th Cir. 1990). With respect to Plaintiff’s stabilization claim, the
Sixth Circuit has held that EMTALA requires “doctors on duty or those doctors that
would have been provided to any paying patient” to stabilize a medical condition “within
the actual knowledge of the doctors” before transferring or discharging a patient. Id. at
The foregoing authority demonstrates that Defendant’s emergency room
triage/screening policies/protocols are relevant and must be produced. See Stringfellow v.
Oakwood Hosp. and Med. Ctr., No. 03-cv-75188, 2005 WL 8154517, at *2 (E.D. Mich.
Oct. 21, 2005) (compelling production of emergency department’s screening policies and
procedures); Williams v. Baptist Healthcare Sys., Inc., No. 3:16-cv-236-CRS, 2018 WL
11399986, at *2–3 (W.D. Ky. July 24, 2018) (“The hospital emergency department
policies and procedures at issue run directly to the heart of the parties’ [EMTALA]
dispute and therefore are clearly relevant within Rule 26(b)(1).”). In addition, if
Defendant maintains more specific emergency room triage/screening policies/protocols
should the initial triage identify a patient as suicidal, including any stabilization protocol,
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such policies/protocols are also relevant and must be produced. To address Defendant’s
valid confidentiality concerns, the Court GRANTS its Motion for a Protective Order, and
Defendant may produce these documents under the protective order, which will be
docketed contemporaneously with this Opinion and Order.
Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel is DENIED with respect to Plaintiff’s requests for
additional policies, including policies relating to “treatment procedures for suicidal
patients,” “[p]olicies on doctors and hospital tools [and] instruments,” and policies
relating to “allow[ing] patients to perform or assist in their own medical procedures,”
(Pl.’s Mot. to Compel ECF No. 54 at PAGEID ## 298-99). These additional policies
lack relevance to Plaintiff’s EMTALA screening and stabilization claims. See Bentley v.
Highlands Hosp. Corp., No. 7:15-cv-97-ART-EBA, 2016 WL 762686, at *4 (E.D. Ky.
Feb. 23, 2016) (denying EMTALA plaintiff’s motion to compel hospital
policies/protocols as overbroad and unduly burdensome where the hospital had already
produced “medical screening triage policies”).
Finally, Plaintiff’s unopposed Motion to Extend the Case Schedule, seeking a
thirty-day extension of the discovery deadline is GRANTED for good cause shown. The
new discovery deadline is JUNE 10, 2022. In addition, the Court SUA SPONTE
EXTENDS the deadline by which Plaintiff must file his opposition to Defendant’s
Motion for Summary Judgment to JUNE 24, 2022, so that Plaintiff may complete
discovery prior to filing his opposition.
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel (ECF No. 54) is GRANTED IN
PART AND DENIED IN PART, Defendant’s Motion for a Protective Order (ECF No. 56) is
GRANTED, and Plaintiff’s Motion to Extend the Case Schedule (ECF No. 59) is GRANTED.
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The discovery deadline is EXTENDED to JUNE 10, 2022, and Plaintiff’s forthcoming
memorandum in opposition is due ON OR BEFORE JUNE 24, 2022.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
/s/ Chelsey M. Vascura
CHELSEY M. VASCURA
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
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