GARZA v. MOLYEAUX et al
MEMORANDUM. AN APPROPRIATE ORDER FOLLOWS.. SIGNED BY MAGISTRATE JUDGE CAROL SANDRA MOORE WELLS ON 7/24/17. 7/24/17 ENTERED AND COPIES E-MAILED TO COUNSEL.(pr, )
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
EDWARD R. GARZA, JR.
JAMES H. CARSON, et al.
CAROL SANDRA MOORE WELLS
United States Magistrate Judge
July 24, 2017
Presently before the undersigned is Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Defendant James H.
Carson, M.D. to produce his Personnel File as well as documents concerning his treatment of
inmate and non-inmate patients over a number of years. Dr. Carson, in response, has agreed to
produce his Personnel File, subject to redaction of all personal-identifying and compensationrelated information.
Dr. Carson refuses, however, to produce other requested documents,
arguing that Plaintiff’s request is overly-burdensome for his medical practice to produce and
asserting that Plaintiff should first be required to establish that Dr. Carson provided him with
inadequate medical care before receiving the documents, which relate to Dr. Carson’s state of
mind when acting. The undersigned accepts Dr. Carson’s response concerning his Personnel
File, but rejects his rationale for not producing the other documents Plaintiff seeks. To make the
discovery proportional to the needs of this case, the undersigned will limit the years for which
Dr. Carson must produce records.
In this case, Plaintiff alleges that Dr. Carson, and other Defendants, demonstrated
deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs while he was an inmate at the Lancaster
County Prison (“LCP”). In particular, he alleges that they provided inadequate medical care for
the broken ankle he had sustained prior to entering LCP. In order to prove that Dr. Carson was
deliberately indifferent to his serious medical need, Plaintiff must establish by objective evidence
that the care Dr. Carson provided to him was inadequate and by subjective evidence that Dr.
Carson possessed the state of mind required for Eighth Amendment liability. Pearson v. Prison
Health Services, 850 F.3d 526, 536 (3d Cir. 2017).
The requisite state of mind, called
“deliberate indifference,” is often proven by circumstantial evidence. Id. at 535. Plaintiff could
opt to show that the treatment Dr. Carson has routinely provided to non-inmate patients with
broken ankles differs in quality from the treatment he provides to inmate patients with similar
injuries. In order to contrast treatment, Plaintiff requires a sampling of Dr. Carson’s non-inmate
and inmate patients with broken ankles. Hence, the evidence Plaintiff seeks to obtain from Dr.
Carson is plainly relevant to an element of his cause of action and is appropriate for discovery.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).
Dr. Carson, in part via the affidavit of H. William Weik, Jr., the Chief Executive Officer
of his medical practice, 1 seeks to avoid providing any of these relevant documents to Plaintiff,
alleging that it would be too onerous for his medical practice to produce them. This argument
fails; Mr. Weik has not explained why it would take two staff members 300 hours to locate the
records sought. Mr. Weik has not asserted that the records are not, as would be typical, in a
searchable database. Hence, this court is not convinced that the requested records cannot be
obtained more promptly and easily than Mr. Weik asserts. Nevertheless, this court will lessen
the burden on Dr. Carson’s practice in two ways. First, Dr. Carson shall produce records for
only 20 patients of each type (inmate and non-inmate), not the 50 Plaintiff seeks. Second, if it
would be easier for Dr. Carson’s practice to search for and produce the necessary records by
using ICD (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Health Related Problems) or
Plaintiff directed his discovery requests and motion to Dr. Carson. However, Dr. Carson has not provided any
factual explanation for why he cannot produce the records. Instead, Mr. Weik has submitted an affidavit wherein he
avers that complying with Plaintiff’s document request would consume 300 hours of time from two staff members at
the medical practice.
CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) descriptors, see Defendant Carson’s Memorandum of
Law at 5 n.4, they may do so to identify the relevant records. 2
Additionally, Dr. Carson objects on the ground that Plaintiff should first be required to
establish that Dr. Carson provided him with inadequate medical care before receiving the
documents, which relate to Dr. Carson’s state of mind when acting; this objection also fails. No
legal justification exists for delaying discovery on the state of mind part of Plaintiff’s Eighth
Amendment claim until he demonstrates the inadequate care component of his claim, since Judge
Rufe has not ordered bifurcated discovery in this case. Plaintiff, therefore, may pursue discovery
on all aspects of his claims. If, once discovery is complete, Plaintiff cannot prove an essential
element of his Eighth Amendment cause of action against Dr. Carson, that unsubstantiated claim
can be challenged via dispositive motion practice.
An implementing Order follows.
Dr. Carson represents that his practice uses ICD and CPT descriptors for billing purposes. Defendant Carson’s
Memorandum of Law at 5 n.4.
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