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Morgan v. Spivey

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

December 8, 2017

MICHAEL J. MORGAN, Plaintiff,
v.
RICKY J. SPIVEY, in his individual and official capacities as a Wake County Sheriff's Deputy, Y L. MILLER, in his individual and official capacities as a Wake County Sheriff's Deputy, JOSHUA K. LEGAN, in his individual and official capacities as a Wake County Sheriff's Deputy, DONNIE HARRISON, in his official capacity as Sheriff of Wake County, North Carolina, THE OHIO CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, individually, and as a subsequent subsidiary of LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, as SURETY, Defendants.

          ORDER

          LOUISE W. FLANAGAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the court on joint motion to compel filed by defendants Ricky J. Spivey (“Spivey”), Casey L. Miller (“Miller”), Joshua K. Legan (“Legan”), and Donnie Harrison (“Harrison”) (collectively, “Sheriff Defendants”) and Ohio Casualty Insurance Company (“Ohio Casualty”) (DE 99) together with plaintiff's motion for protective order (DE 105). The issues raised have been fully briefed and are ripe for adjudication. For the following reasons, defendants' joint motion to compel is denied and plaintiff's motion for protective order is granted.

         BACKGROUND

         The court repeats here with some modification as pertinent to the instant motions the facts as stated in the court's September 29, 2017, order. Plaintiff commenced this action against Sheriff Defendants and Wake County, North Carolina on June 10, 2016, alleging various claims against the parties including: negligence, gross negligence, violation of civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, suit on sheriff's bond, assault and battery, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and civil conspiracy. On September 6, 2016, defendant Wake County, North Carolina voluntarily was dismissed. On September 15, 2016, Sheriff Defendants filed a motion for partial judgment on the pleadings, which plaintiff responded to on October 6, 2016, also filing a motion to amend complaint, in order to join Ohio Casualty. On November 14, 2016, this court granted plaintiff's motion to amend and denied as moot Sheriff Defendants' motion for partial judgment on the pleadings. On November 23, 2016, plaintiff filed its amended complaint.

         On January 20, 2017, defendant Ohio Casualty filed a motion to dismiss. On February 15, 2017, Sheriff Defendants filed a motion for partial judgment. On September 29, 2017, the court granted in part and denied in part both Ohio Casualty's motion to dismiss and Sheriff Defendants' motion for partial judgment, finding the following claims to remain:

1) claims against defendants Spivey, Miller, and Legan regarding violation of civil rights pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983;
2) claims against Ohio Casualty to recover on sheriff's bond for any breaches of the bond accruing on or after October 6, 2013;
3) negligence and gross negligence claims against defendants Spivey, Miller, and Legan, in their individual capacity, except regarding their failure to possess the necessary training and experience to serve as deputies;
4) state-law assault and battery claims against defendants Spivey and Miller in their individual capacity;
5) false imprisonment claims against defendants Spivey, Miller, and Legan, in their official and individual capacities;
6) malicious prosecution claims against defendants Spivey, Miller, and Legan; and
7) civil conspiracy.

         Previously plaintiff and defendants Spivey, Miller, and Legan filed consent motions for protective orders regarding production of plaintiff's tax returns and production of defendants Spivey, Miller, and Legan's personnel records. The court granted both motions on August 29, 2017. On October 16, 2017, defendants filed the instant joint motion to compel, related to plaintiff's treatment at Western Wake Treatment Center, to which plaintiff responded in opposition including the instant motion for protective order on November 20, 2017. Defendants filed their response to plaintiff's motion for protective order on November 29, 2017. Discovery closes on January 29, 2018.

         STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

         The undisputed facts pertinent to the instant motions may be summarized as follows. On July 5, 2013, an altercation occurred between plaintiff and defendants Spivey, Miller, and Legan which resulted in plaintiff being shot twice. Following the shooting, plaintiff was prosecuted on various charges including multiple assault charges. On June 5, 2014, plaintiff was found not guilty of all charges that had not been previously dismissed. Plaintiff filed this suit on June 10, 2016, alleging “physical, emotional, and financial injury, ” including “severe physical pain, mental suffering, anguish, shock, [and] fright” as a result of the July 5, 2013 altercation. (Am. Compl. (DE 61) ¶ 203). In discovery, defendants sought in part information about medical treatment and mental health counseling plaintiff has received following the July 5, 2013 altercation, including treatment and counseling received from Western Wake Treatment Center, a mental health counseling and methadone clinic.[1]

         COURT'S DISCUSSION

         A. Standard of Review Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 provides that when a party fails to respond to discovery, the party seeking discovery can move for an order compelling production. Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B). When addressing a motion to compel discovery, the trial court holds broad discretion. See LaRouche v. Nat'l Broadcasting Co., Inc., 780 F.2d 1134, 1139 (4th Cir. 1986) (“A motion to compel discovery is addressed to the sound discretion of the district court.”); see also Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, Inc. v. Alpha of Va., Inc., 43 F.3d 922, 929 (4th Cir. 1995) (“This Court affords a district court substantial discretion in managing discovery and reviews the denial or granting of a motion to compel discovery for abuse of discretion.”).

         B. Analysis

         Defendants seek a court order compelling plaintiff to respond to questions concerning plaintiff's treatment received at Western Wake Treatment Center and directing the production of plaintiff's Western Wake Treatment Center medical records over plaintiff's objections. (DE 100 at 3). Specifically, defendants request the court to:

1. Compel plaintiff to respond to Sheriff Defendants' first set of interrogatories, which includes inquires about medical attention and mental health counseling, and related incurred expenses, sought for any of the injuries suffered as a result of the July 5, 2013 incident or thereafter;
2. Compel plaintiff to respond to Sheriff Defendants' requests for production of documents, request number ...

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