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Aaron Willey v. Robert A. Kirkpatrick

September 19, 2011

AARON WILLEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROBERT A. KIRKPATRICK, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marian W. Payson United States Magistrate Judge

DECISION & ORDER

Plaintiff Aaron Willey ("Willey") has filed this lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that defendants subjected him to excessive force, denied him due process and retaliated against him for exercising his constitutional rights. (Docket ## 1, 60). Currently pending before this Court is a motion by defendants (Docket # 63) and a cross-motion by Willey (Docket # 67) to extend the discovery deadline. Additionally, Willey seeks reconsideration of this Court's April 8, 2011 Order granting defendants' motion to compel the production of Willey's mental health records. (Docket # 83). Finally, Willey has also filed four motions to compel. (Docket ## 92, 99, 101, 105). I address each in turn below.

I. Motion to Extend Deadline

On December 2, 2009, this Court entered a scheduling order setting October 29, 2010 as the deadline for fact discovery and January 31, 2011 as the deadline for dispositive motions. (Docket # 49). On January 31, 2011, defendants filed the instant motion to extend the discovery and dispositive motion deadlines on the basis that they had been unable to take plaintiff's deposition while he was in jail for a parole violation. (Docket # 63 at ¶ 4). Although Willey objected to defendants' motion, he also cross-moved for an extension of time to depose the defendants and pursue further discovery after his release from jail. (Docket # 67).

Rule 16(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that "[a] schedule may be modified only for good cause and with the judge's consent." Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4). Willey's objection to defendants' motion notwithstanding, both parties have shown good cause for an extension of the discovery deadline. Accordingly, defendants' motion and plaintiff's cross-motion for an extension of time are granted. An amended scheduling order will issue separately.

II. Motion for Reconsideration

A. Background

On February 18, 2011, defendants filed a motion to compel the production of Willey's mental health records from January 1, 2004 to the present. (Docket # 69). This Court issued a motion scheduling order providing Willey until March 11, 2011 to respond to the motion. (Docket # 71). Believing that Willey had not responded, on April 8, 2011, this Court granted defendants' motion to compel. (Docket # 77). On April 28, 2011, Willey moved for reconsideration of that decision on the grounds that his mental health records are privileged and confidential and that the time period for which defendants seek the records is overbroad. (Docket # 83). In addition, Willey attached to his motion a copy of a document he filed with this Court on February 18, 2011 -- the same day that the Court issued its motion scheduling order -- objecting to the production of his mental health records. (Id. at 5; Docket # 67 at 3).

"The standard for granting [a motion to reconsider] is strict, and reconsideration will generally be denied unless the moving party can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked -- matters, in other words, that might reasonably be expected to alter the conclusion reached by the court." Shrader v. CSX Transp., Inc., 70 F.3d 255, 257 (2d Cir. 1995) (citations omitted). Here, the Court granted defendants' motion to compel the production of Willey's mental health records on the basis that he had failed to respond. Willey has demonstrated, however, that this Court failed to consider his objection, which he had earlier filed.*fn1 Accordingly, this Court grants Willey's motion for reconsideration and must now determine whether Willey should be required to produce his mental health records.

Willey's complaint alleges that defendants' actions caused him to suffer a nervous breakdown and develop a mental illness, leading to Willey's confinement in a psychiatric hospital. (Docket # 60 at ¶ 90). Specifically, Willey alleges that he was housed in an observation cell at Wende Correctional Facility between February 10 and February 24, 2006. (Docket # 83 at 2). Thereafter, he was sent to the Central New York Psychiatric Center and did not return to Wende until July 28, 2006. (Id.). Willey contends that defendants are thus entitled to his mental health records only from February 10, 2006 through July 28, 2006. (Id.). Willey further contends that some of those records are irrelevant to his claims because they are not related to the emotional distress allegedly caused by defendants. (Id.). Defendants, however, contend that Willey's mental health records from January 1, 2004 to the present are relevant and necessary in order to properly defend against his allegations. (Docket # 84).

B. Analysis

The threshold requirement of discoverability under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is whether the information sought is "relevant to any party's claim or defense."

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1). To be discoverable, the information "need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence." Id. The relevance standard is commonly recognized as one that is necessarily broad in scope in order "to encompass any matter that bears on, or that reasonably could lead to other matter that could bear on, any issue that is or may be in the case." Oppenheimer Fund, Inc. v. Sanders, 437 U.S. 340, 351 (1978) (citation omitted). See Daval Steel Prods., a Div. of Francosteel Corp. v. M/V Fakredine, 951 F.2d 1357, 1367 (2d Cir. 1991) (parties entitled to discovery of any matter that appears "reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence").

"[C]onfidential communications between a licensed psychotherapist and her patients in the course of diagnosis or treatment are protected from compelled disclosure under Rule 501 of the Federal Rules of Evidence." Jaffee v. ...


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