United States District Court, D. New Mexico
ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO COMPEL AND EXTENDING
R. SWEAZEA, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendants'
motion to compel discovery. (Doc. 37). The dispute centers
around whether Plaintiff Shamus Wright must answer questions
relating to, and provide releases for, his medical history.
Defendants maintain they need the information to defend
against Wright's claims and, possibly, prove up an
affirmative mitigation defense. Wright insists he has only
alleged “garden variety” injuries and maintains
Defendants should not be allowed unfettered access to his
privileged medical history. The Court has considered the
parties' submissions along with the record and
GRANTS in part and DENIES
in part Defendants' motion.
case arises from Wright's arrest by Hobbs, New Mexico
police officers on June 28, 2018 for allegedly concealing his
identity. (Doc. 1). According to the complaint, the Wright
family was in the process of planning a reunion for the
following day. (Id.). Two family members, Plaintiff
Kentoine Penman and De'Aunte Meridyth, were outside
standing in the street of a residential neighborhood by a
parked car. (Id.). The Wright family had procured a
permit to block the road for the reunion. (Id.).
Jaimes was in the vicinity conducting an unrelated traffic
stop and observed Penman and Meridyth in the road.
(Id.). At some point, Jaimes approached Penman and
Meridyth and detained them for walking in the street instead
of on the sidewalk, although Jaimes did not actually observe
either man walking in the street. (Id.). Officers
Gastelum and Martinez arrived on scene. (Id.).
events were unfolding, Wright was standing on the sidewalk.
Wright asked the officers why they were there.
(Id.). The officers accused Wright of
“interjecting himself” into the investigation and
demanded his identification. (Id.). Wright refused,
and Martinez told Wright that concealing one's identity
is a crime. (Id.). Gastelum and Martinez then told
Wright they were arresting him for concealing his identity.
process of arresting Wright, Gastelum used a leg sweep
causing Wright to fall to the ground. (Id.). As
Wright lay on the ground, Gastelum had control of
Wright's left arm and Martinez, Wright's right hand.
(Id.). Martinez kept Wright pinned to ground while
Gastelum handcuffed Wright. (Id.). Wright was then
transported to the Hobbs' jail and charged with
concealing identity, and resisting, evading, and obstructing
an officer. (Id.). Wright “experienced
residual pain after the incident.” (Id.,
¶48). This lawsuit followed on December 3,
2018. (Doc. 1). For Wright, the complaint alleges a count of
wrongful arrest under the Fourth Amendment. (Id.).
of discovery, Wright verified that he experienced
“[p]ain and [s]uffering . . . on [his] body from the
arrest” along with “[a]nxiety defending himself
from criminal charges.” (Doc. 32-7). Wright also
confirmed he would seek compensation for, inter
alia, this pain and suffering and anxiety although he
had not assigned a dollar amount to these damages.
(Id.). Wright further averred he “did not
request medical attention” as a result of the arrest,
but did not, as Defendants requested, “identify the
nature of the [residual] physical pain in detail, including
but not limited to the location of the pain, the severity of
the pain, the duration of the pain.” (Id.,
Pl.'s Ans. Interrog. 12).
Wright seeks “damages for bodily [and] psychological
injur[ies], ” he declined to provide Defendants the
“name and address of any healthcare providers . . . who
provided treatment to [him] for any physical injury,
condition, or mental health condition prior to the June 28,
2018 Incident” and a release for his medical records.
(Id., Ans. Interrog. 13). Wright objected because
“the requested information is overly broad an unduly
intrusive of Plaintiff's privacy interest.”
Moreover, a “complete medical release . . . . of his
complete medical history, ” Wright maintains, would be
overly broad, intrusive of his privacy interests and unlikely
to reveal any relevant evidence. (Id.).
similar reasons, Wright withheld “records relating to
any treatment for any physical, psychological or mental
injury [he] claim[s] was caused by or exacerbated by the June
28, 2018 Incident” or a “HIPAA Compliant
Authorization” to release records “for each such
provider who has treated [Wright] within the five (5)-year
period prior to the June 28 Incident.” (Doc. 37-3,
Resp. Request for Production 8). Wright also did not produce
his “medical records from any healthcare providers . .
. who treated [him] for any preexisting mental, psychological
or physical condition [he] claim[s] was exacerbated by the .
. . Incident” or sign releases Defendants provided.
(Id., Resp. Request for Production 9). In
Wright's view because he sought no “medical or
mental health treatment as a result of [his] arrest”
his “previous treatment is immaterial to their claims
and unduly invasive of privacy interests and not proportional
to the needs of discovery.” (Id.).
instant motion to compel answers to Interrogatories 12 and 13
and Requests for Production 8 and 9 followed. (Doc. 37).
Rule of Civil Procedure 26 allows for the discovery of
“any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any
party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of
the case.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). “When requested
discovery appears relevant, the party objecting to production
has the burden of establishing the lack of relevance by
demonstrating that the request falls outside the scope set
forth in Rule 26(b)(1), or that the requested discovery is of
such marginal relevance that the potential harm occasioned by
discovery would outweigh the ordinary presumption in favor of
broad disclosure.” Shotts v. Geico Gen. Ins.
Co., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171515, at *1 (W.D. Okla.
Oct. 17, 2017) (citation omitted). Likewise, where a ...