United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Katherine Menendez United States Magistrate Judge
Centurion of Minnesota, LLC (“Centurion”) and
Jeanne Luck filed a motion to compel the plaintiff, Tony
Terrell Robinson, to sign a release of medical records or for
the Court to order the release of his records. (ECF No. 135.)
Defendant Stephen Dannewitz has filed a substantially similar
motion to compel. (ECF No. 148.) This matter has been
temporarily stayed while the parties and Court prepare for an
early settlement conference. However, because the records now
at issue are essential to the defendants' ability to
evaluate the case, the Court considers the motions to compel
at this stage. For the reasons set forth below the Court
GRANTS the motions to compel.
Robinson injured his ankle while incarcerated at Minnesota
Department of Corrections Lino Lakes Correctional Facility,
and he alleges that the defendants failed to properly treat
his ankle injury and its associated pain. He claims damages
for physical pain and emotional suffering. Centurion, Ms.
Luck, and Dr. Dannewitz served Mr. Robinson with Rule 34
requests for production of his medical records, including a
copy of a medical authorization, which, if signed by Mr.
Robinson, would permit the defendants to access his
Department of Corrections medical records. Mr. Robinson
refused to produce the documents and refused to sign the
authorization, objecting to the request on the grounds of
overbreadth, privilege, and irrelevance. Centurion, Ms. Luck,
and Dr. Dannewitz then served the motions to compel.
may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that
is relevant to any party's claim or
defense….” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). Discovery
rules are broadly interpreted, including those related to
relevancy. E.g., Hofer v. Mack Trucks,
Inc., 981 F.2d 377, 380 (8th Cir. 1991.) “[A]ny
matter that bears on, or that could reasonably relate to
other matters that could bear on, any issue that is or may be
in [the] case” is relevant. Oppenheimer Fund v.
Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978). In fact, information
is “generally discoverable unless it is clear that the
information sought has no bearing upon the subject matter of
the action.” Shukh v. Seagate Tech., LLC, 295
F.R.D. 228, 237 (D. Minn. 2013) (quotation omitted).
it is clear that Mr. Robinson's medical records are
relevant to this action. In fact, because the litigation
revolves around Mr. Robinson's physical and emotional
injuries, they are a key piece of evidence necessary for the
resolution of the issues in the case, whether by settlement
or decision on the merits. Accordingly, the Court grants
Centurion, Ms. Luck, and Dr. Dannewitz's motions to
compel. However, the Court will only order Mr. Robinson to
sign the medical authorization; it does not, at this time,
order the direct release of Mr. Robinson's medical
records absent his consent. Mr. Robinson brought this case
and put his physical and mental health into controversy.
Given his previous reluctance to provide medical
authorization to the defendants, he should consider whether
he wishes to continue with his case. To that end, the Court
will require Mr. Robinson to sign the medical authorization
within two weeks of this Order. If he does
not, the Court will make a recommendation for dismissal of
this case for failure to prosecute.
Dr. Dannewitz seeks monetary sanctions against Mr. Robinson
for the fees and costs incurred by Dr. Dannewitz in making
this motion. The Court denies this request. Rule 37(a)(5)(C)
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides the Court
with discretion to deny the award of fees and costs if it
finds that circumstances would make an award of expenses
unjust, and here, such circumstances exist. Mr. Robinson is a
pro-se litigant who is incarcerated and has been granted in
forma pauperis status. Requiring him to pay the attorney fees
and costs for a discovery dispute of this nature would
ultimately be unjust.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
Motion to Compel filed by Centurion of Minnesota, LLC and
Jeanne Luck (ECF No. 135) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN
PART. Mr. Robinson must provide a signed authorization within
two weeks to Centurion and Ms. Luck.
Centurion and Ms. Luck's request for an order releasing
Mr. Robinson's medical records to them is DENIED.
Motion to Compel filed by Stephen Dannewitz (ECF No. 148) is
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART. Mr. Robinson must provide
a signed authorization within two weeks to
Dr. Dannewitz. Dr. Dannewitz's request for fees and costs
Centurion, Ms. Luck, and Dr. Dannewitz must provide Mr.
Robinson with a copy of the medical records they receive as a
result of this Order.
Mr. Robinson fails to comply with this Order and does not
provide signed authorizations to Centurion, Ms. Luck, and Dr.
Dannewitz within ten (10) days of this order, the Court will