United States District Court, D. Connecticut
JAMES A. HARNAGE
INTERN SHARI, et al.
RULING ON PLANTIFF'S EMERGENCY MOTION TO COMPEL
RESPONSES TO PLAINTIFF'S FIRST INTERROGATORIES AND
REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION [DOC. #80]
SARAH A. L. MERRIAM UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
before the Court is a motion filed by self-represented
plaintiff James A. Harnage (“plaintiff”), seeking
to compel additional responses to plaintiff's
interrogatories and requests for production directed to
defendant Sreelakshmi Reddivari (hereinafter the
“defendant”) [Doc. #80]. On August 16, 2019,
Judge Alvin W. Thompson referred plaintiff's motion to
the undersigned. [Doc. #86]. On September 3, 2019, following
a meet-and-confer telephone call with plaintiff [Docs. #93,
#101], defendant filed an objection to plaintiff's motion
to compel. [Doc. #102]. For the reasons set forth below, the
Court GRANTS, in part, and DENIES, in part,
plaintiff's Emergency Motion to Compel Responses to
Plaintiff's First Interrogatories and Request for
Production [Doc. #80].
proceeding by a Corrected Complaint, brings this action
pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging that each named
defendant was deliberately indifferent to his serious medical
needs. See Doc. #25, Corrected Complaint. At all times
relevant to the allegations in the Corrected Complaint,
plaintiff was an inmate in the custody of the Connecticut
Department of Correction, and housed at the MacDougall
Correctional Institute. See Id. at ¶1.
September 2, 2015, plaintiff underwent a surgical correction
of “an abdominal midline hernia and diastasis.”
Id. at ¶7. The allegations of the Corrected
Complaint do not relate to the surgery itself, but instead
are limited to the several days of plaintiff's
post-surgical care at the University of Connecticut
(“UConn”) John Dempsey Hospital (hereinafter the
“Hospital”). See generally Doc. #25, Corrected
Complaint. Plaintiff alleges that defendant, who was then a
surgical intern at the Hospital, deliberately used excessive
pressure when examining plaintiff's abdomen during
post-surgical rounds, causing plaintiff unnecessary pain. See
Id. at ¶¶24-40. Plaintiff asserts that
after he complained about defendant's post-surgical
examinations, defendant “became even more aggressive in
her palpitation of plaintiffs abdomen, sadistically for the
very purpose of causing the plaintiff pain.”
Id. at ¶38 (sic). Plaintiff also alleges that
defendant was present for plaintiff's “pre-surgery
and post-surgical consultations with” his surgeon, Dr.
Giles. Id. at ¶24.
the other three named defendants -- Joanne Ernest, Jacqueline
Anderson and Joan LeBlanc -- is alleged to have been part of
the Hospital medical staff tending to plaintiff's
post-surgical care. See Doc. #25 at ¶¶3-5.
Plaintiff alleges, in pertinent part, that these three
defendants each deliberately ignored doctors'
prescriptions for plaintiff's post-surgical pain
medications, turned off plaintiff's call button, denied
or ignored plaintiff's requests for assistance in using
the toilet, and denied plaintiff's requests for secondary
pain medication. See generally Id. at
the Corrected Complaint alleges that after plaintiff's
surgery on September 2, 2015, he “remained hospitalized
for approximately 7 days, ” plaintiff has clarified on
the record that the claims at issue in this case relate
solely to the time when he was hospitalized from September 4,
2015, through September 8, 2019. See Doc. #95, Transcript of
August 12, 2019, Telephonic Discovery Conference, at 18:2-14,
26:20-22; see also Id. at 35:18-20 (“Mr.
Harnage has explained that the harm in this case and the
actions in this case are all entirely limited to ...
September 4th to 8, 2015[.]”).
filed his motion to compel on August 12, 2019. [Doc. #80]. On
August 13, 2019, the Court took that motion under advisement,
and ordered plaintiff and counsel for defendants to engage in
a meet-and-confer telephone call by August 26, 2019. See Doc.
#83. The Court also ordered that by September 3, 2019,
plaintiff and counsel for defendants file a joint status
report detailing which of plaintiff's discovery requests
had been resolved by agreement, and which remained
outstanding for the Court's adjudication. See
Id. On August 30, 2019, counsel for defendants filed
a status report concerning the parties' meet-and-confer
efforts. See Doc. #101. Those efforts were fruitless, and the
entirety of plaintiff's motion remains for the
Court's consideration. See Id. at 1. On
September 3, 2019, defendant filed an objection to
plaintiff's motion to compel. [Doc. #102].
26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure sets forth
the scope and limitations of permissible discovery:
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 be discoverable.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). “[T]he burden of
demonstrating relevance remains on the party seeking
discovery.” Bagley v. Yale Univ., 315 F.R.D.
131, 144 (D. Conn. 2016) (quotation marks and citation
omitted), as amended (June 15, 2016); Republic of Turkey
v. Christie's, Inc., 326 F.R.D. 394, 400 (S.D.N.Y.
2018) (same). Once the party seeking discovery has
demonstrated relevance, the burden then shifts to
“[t]he party resisting discovery ... [to] show why
discovery should be denied.” Cole v. Towers Perrin
Forster & Crosby, 256 F.R.D. 79, 80 (D. Conn. 2009)
seeks to compel further responses to both his interrogatories
and requests for production served on defendant. See Doc.
#80. The Court addresses each request in turn, beginning with
1 asks defendant to: “Describe any and all interactions
and medical care provided by you (Reddivari) to plaintiff,
James A. Harnage, at any time between January 2013 and
December 2018, including the date of the medical care, the
type and purpose of the medical care and any other person
involved in providing or supervising the care
provided.” Doc. #80-2 at 1. Defendant did not answer
interrogatory 1, and instead objected on grounds that the
interrogatory is overly broad, unduly burdensome, vague,
ambiguous, not reasonably limited in time or duration, and
seeks information that is not relevant to the claims of this
case. See Id. at 1-2. Defendant also objected:
[I]t appears plaintiff is in a better position to obtain or
provide the information sought, as he is in possession of his
medical records and has refused to produce them to the
defendant in this case and has refused to execute releases
that would allow the defendant to obtain those records in
this case. The defendant would need to review the medical
records in order to assess or evaluate this interrogatory.
Id. at 2.
Court SUSTAINS defendant's objections, in part. In light
of the very discrete claims at issue in the Corrected
Complaint, interrogatory 1 is overbroad in both substantive
and temporal scope. The Court also sustains defendant's
objection that the term “interactions” is vague.
Nevertheless, the Court will require defendant to answer
interrogatory 1, reframed as follows: Describe (1) any and
all medical treatment provided by you to plaintiff, and/or
(2) any medical visits you had with plaintiff, related to
plaintiff's September 2, 2015, abdominal hernia surgery.
Defendant's response should include the date of any