United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Katherine Menendez United States Magistrate Judge.
Plaintiff, Steven Jacob Goldmann, brought this action pro
se pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Mr. Goldmann
alleges that the defendants violated his constitutional
rights, specifically his right not to be subjected to cruel
and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, by denying
him medications while he was confined at Sherburne County
Jail. [See Compl., ECF No. 1.] Specifically, he
alleges that the Defendants unlawfully discontinued certain
prescribed medications he was taking to treat Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder related to combat injuries. [Id. at
6-7.] For the alleged violation of his rights, Mr. Goldmann
asks the Court to order a change in jail policy to ensure
that detainee mental health needs are not overlooked and he
seeks $200, 000 in damages to compensate him for needed
mental health assistance and suffering. [Id. at 9,
Request for Relief.]
Mehlhoff and Diana VanDerBeek are both named defendants in
Mr. Goldmann's lawsuit, and each is identified as a nurse
responsible for providing medical care at the facility. They
have filed a motion to compel Plaintiff's Medical Records
pursuant to Rule 16(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure. [ECF No. 28.] Ms. Mehlhoff and Ms. VanDerBeek
assert that Sherburne County Jail has copies of Mr.
Goldmann's medical records for the period relevant to
this case. Their counsel states that he mailed Mr. Goldmann a
form asking Mr. Goldmann to authorize the release of those
medical records. Defense counsel further avers that Mr.
Goldmann agreed to sign the release form during the January
18, 2018 Rule 26(f) conference and that he mailed Mr.
Goldmann a second copy form the same day. However, as of
March 12, 2018, Mr. Goldmann has not executed and returned
the authorization form as he agreed. [See Novak Aff.
¶¶ 2-5 (describing the steps counsel took to obtain
Mr. Goldmann's consent to the release of his medical
records).] In the proposed order submitted with their motion
to compel, the defendants ask the Court to order Sherburne
County Jail to provide copies of Mr. Goldmann's medical
records to defense counsel. [ECF No. 32.] Mr. Goldmann has
not responded to the motion.
on the record here, the Motion to Compel Plaintiff's
Medical Records [ECF No. 28] is
DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE, but this does not
mean that Ms. Mehlhoff and Ms. VanDerBeek are not entitled to
obtain Mr. Goldmann's medical records. Although the
Defendants cite Rule 16(b) in their motion, that Rule's
provisions provide no authority for an order compelling
discovery, which might be enough to justify denial of the
motion. But the Court's decision here relies on more than
obtain discovery of documents that are in another party's
possession, custody, or control, a party may serve requests
for production or inspection pursuant to Rule 34 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. If the responding party
fails to produce relevant documents in response to such a
request, the requesting party may make a motion to compel.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(3)(B)(iv). These steps are necessary
preconditions to an order compelling the production of
documents. The Court appreciates the efforts defense counsel
made to obtain the unquestionably relevant medical records at
issue through informal means with Mr. Goldmann's
cooperation. But the defendants have not shown that they
served a Rule 34 request for production on Mr. Goldmann, so
the Court cannot reasonably construe their motion as a Rule
37 motion to compel him to produce copies of his medical
defendants' proposed order itself is also problematic. As
noted above, it asks the Court to order a non-party,
Sherburne County Jail, to provide copies of Mr.
Goldmann's medical records. [ECF No. 32.] However, the
defendants have not shown that they served a third-party
subpoena on Sherburne County Jail pursuant to Rule 45. If
they had, and Sherburne County Jail refused to provide the
records, Ms. Mehlhoff and Ms. VanDerBeek could bring a motion
to compel compliance under the contempt provision in Rule
45(g). Without these steps first taking place, however, the
Court lacks the authority to require a non-party to produce
or permit inspection of documents relevant to this lawsuit.
Hopefully, resort to this more expensive procedure will not
be necessary here and the case can get moving forward without
further unnecessary discovery litigation.
the circumstances, it was reasonable for defense counsel to
ask Mr. Goldmann to sign a release form. This is often the
most efficient way for defendants to obtain copies of medical
records, especially in cases where the documents are most
readily accessible by government agencies covered by laws
that preclude them from idly sharing private medical
information. The rules allow the defendants to obtain
relevant discovery, and Mr. Goldmann has placed his medical
conditions in issue by the nature of the allegations in his
complaint. Therefore, it is encouraging that Mr. Goldmann
agreed to sign an authorization form to facilitate the
defendants' access to his relevant medical information.
However, the Court is troubled that he has yet to follow
through with that agreement.
Goldmann is advised that his participation is required for
this case to move forward, and the Court encourages him to
execute the release form provided to him by defense counsel
as soon as possible so that his claims have a chance to be
decided on their merits. If he does not, the Defendants will
almost certainly make the same request in connection with
serving requests for production under Rule 34. If Mr.
Goldmann fails to sign such a release or produce the
documents himself, Ms. Mehlhoff and Ms. VanDerBeek may be
forced to renew their motion to compel, and any failure to
comply with an order that grants such a motion could
potentially carry with it sanctions that would prevent Mr.
Goldmann from ...