United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
MICHAEL K. BROWN, Plaintiff,
KURT PICKNELL, et al., Defendants.
William E. Duffin U.S. Magistrate Judge.
Michael K. Brown is a Wisconsin state prisoner representing
himself. He is proceeding on a claim that the defendants
subjected him to unconstitutional conditions of confinement
when he was confined at the Walworth County Jail. (ECF No.
16.) Brown has filed a motion objecting to the
defendants' discovery requests. (ECF No. 41.) The
defendants have filed a motion to compel medical
authorizations and to amend the scheduling order. (ECF No.
42.) On August 29, 2019, the court held a telephonic hearing
to address the motions.
motion objecting to the defendants' discovery requests,
Brown states that the defendants asked him to turn over
“any and all medical records not limited to MRI's,
CT Scans, EKG's, EEG's, Social History, Employment
Information, School Records, Alcohol or Drug Abuse Treatment
Records, HIV Testing and or Treatment, Psychiatric
Evaluations, any and all Insurance Documents” and that
they requested him to sign five blank medical authorization
forms. (ECF No. 41 at 2.) Brown contends that the
defendants' requests are beyond the scope and limits for
discovery requests and that they are premature because no
Rule 26(f) conference has been held.
defendants filed a joint response to Brown's
motion/motion to compel. (ECF No. 42.) They move for an order
compelling Brown's disclosure of his medical records
because Brown failed to provide written requests to authorize
release of medical records. The defendants contend that, to
properly defend the complaint's allegations, they need
access to his medical records to evaluate and assess the
nature, extent, and credibility of his claimed injuries and
damages, to determine whether an independent medical
examination and/or other expert witnesses are necessary, as
well as to address some of the related medical-legal issues
associated with the claim.
defendants state that on April 30, 2019, they sent Brown
medical authorization forms and requested his consent to
obtain records from the Walworth County Jail (where the
incidents giving rise to Brown's claim arose) and the
Redgranite Correctional Institution (where Brown is
incarcerated now). The defendants also included five blank
authorization forms for other providers who have treated
Brown in the last ten years. The defendants sent a second
request on May 29, 2019, and two weeks later they received a
letter from Brown requesting more information regarding the
purpose of the requests. In response, the defendants sent
Brown a third request regarding the authorizations and
explaining that his medical records are relevant to his claim
that he was subjected to harmful conditions at the Walworth
initial matter, this case is exempt from initial disclosures
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(a)(1)(B)(iv) because
Brown is a pro se prisoner. See Fed. R.
Civ. P. 26(f)(1). This case is also exempt from a scheduling
conference. See Id. Instead of holding a scheduling
conference, on April 8, 2019, the court issued a scheduling
order (ECF No. 31) and on July 21, 2019, the court extended
the deadlines set forth in the scheduling order (ECF No. 40).
Thus, the defendants' discovery requests are not
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), parties are
permitted to obtain discovery “regarding any
nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's clam
or defense and proportional to the needs of the
case[.]” Although a plaintiff may have a constitutional
interest in protecting the confidentiality of his medical
records, such an interest is waived when he files suit
against defendants alleging claims that place his medical
condition at issue. See Ammons v. Gerlinger, No.
06-C-20-C, 2007 WL 5659413, at *2 (W.D. Wis. Mar. 12, 2007).
Further, “there is no federal common law
physician-patient privilege.” Id.
to Brown, his claims relate to the defendants' deliberate
indifference to his future health risks associated
with the uncleanliness and hazardous conditions at the
Walworth County Jail, where he was confined for roughly six
months. Brown stated that he does not have any current
physical injury from his confinement at the jail, but that he
did suffer psychological harm. Thus, the defendants should be
allowed to obtain Brown's medical records relating to his
on the above discussion, the court will grant Brown's
motion objecting to defendants' discovery request and
deny the defendants' motion to compel. However, Brown is
advised that the court has determined that medical records
relating to his psychological condition are relevant to his
claim in this case. Thus, if the defendants submit revised
medical authorizations to him that are limited to that issue,
such requests for information are relevant and within the
proper scope of discovery. Brown is also advised that the
parties should try to complete discovery without the
court's involvement. This means that, if the
defendants' attorney sends Brown medical authorizations
limited to his medical records relating to his psychological
condition, Brown may sign them and return them directly to
counsel for the defendants.
the court will grant the defendants' motion to amend the
scheduling order. As requested, the new deadline for the
completion of discovery is November 15, 2019, and the new
deadline for filing dispositive motions is December 13, 2019.
IT IS ORDERED that Brown's motion objecting to
defendants' discovery request (ECF No. 41) is
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the defendants' motion
to compel medical authorizations (ECF No. 42) is
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the defendants' motion
to amend the scheduling order (ECF No. 42) is
GRANTED. The new deadline for the completion
of discovery is November 15, 2019, and the