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Edwards v. Lt. Schoenig

United States District Court, E.D. New York

September 16, 2014

MARK EDWARDS, Plaintiff,
v.
LT. SCHOENIG, SGT. STASKY, C.O. GARAFOLO, C.O. RANT, C.O. ARMINI, C.O. WHITE, C.O. PU, C.O. ROMAN, NASSAU COUNTY UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER, DR. JOHN DOE (with a foreign accent), C.O. B. SHEFTIC, (all in their individual as well as official capacities), and NASSAU UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER, Defendants.

For Plaintiff: Mark Edwards, pro se Auburn Correctional Facility Auburn, NY.

Defendants: Liora M. Ben-Sorek, Esq., Nassau County Attorney's Office, Mineola, NY.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

JOANNA SEYBERT, District Judge.

Currently pending before the Court are pro se plaintiff Mark Edwards' ("Plaintiff") objections to Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown's September 27, 2013 Memorandum and Order granting in part and denying in part Plaintiff's motion to compel discovery regarding a Behavior Management Unit ("BMU") written policy (the "BMU Order, " Docket Entry 119) and Judge Brown's electronic order from the same day denying Plaintiff's motion to appoint an expert witness (Sept. 27, 2013 Electronic Order (the "Electronic Order")). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's objections are OVERRULED and Judge Brown's rulings are AFFIRMED.

BACKGROUND[1]

I. Factual Background

Plaintiff commenced this action on November 9, 2005 against corrections officers at the Nassau County Correctional Center and two medical centers (collectively "Defendants") alleging, inter alia, that the corrections officers verbally threatened and assaulted him in his cell in the BMU and denied him adequate medical attention. (Compl. ¶¶ 16, 38-48.) Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that Corrections Officer Schoenig confronted and verbally threatened Plaintiff in his cell on August 13, 2004, and that Schoenig spread rumors to other officers about what occurred. (Compl. ¶¶ 14, 15.) According to Plaintiff, in the following days, other officers teased and made fun of him. (Compl. ¶ 15.)

Plaintiff further alleges that on August 24, 2004, Schoenig, along with Corrections Officers Rant and Garafolo, mercilessly beat Plaintiff causing him to suffer several serious injuries including a black eye, bruised leg, bruised elbow, fractured jaw, and a broken nose. (Compl. ¶¶ 16-17.) Plaintiff claims that several of his requests to see a doctor and to receive painkillers were ignored, and that as a result he is partially incapacitated and mentally unstable. (Compl. ¶ 20.) Plaintiff asserts that when he did get medical attention, he was referred to the emergency room where a doctor filled out "fit for confinement" papers before examining Plaintiff and sent him back to jail without a full examination or painkillers. (Compl. ¶¶ 39, 42-47.)

II. Procedural Background

During the course of discovery on this matter, Defendants provided Plaintiff with a copy of the Behavioral Management Unit Inmate Rules Regulations and Information ("BMU Policy")-which describes fundamental protocols of the BMU-with particular redactions. On January 24, 2014, Plaintiff filed a motion before Judge Brown seeking "an in camera review of the redactions in question, or a simple order compelling the defendants to comply by disclosing the redacted BMU Policy & Procedure pages...." (Pl.'s Mot. to Compel, Docket Entry 112, at 1.) He argued that the redacted information "is likely to be used as evidence or critical information in this case...." (Pl.'s Mot. to Compel at 1.) Defendants countered that the law enforcement privilege applies to protect that information. (Defs.' Opp. to Mot. to Compel, Docket Entry 113.) Defendants summarized that the redacted portions include: "(1) issues of Corrections Department supervision of the BMU, including but not limited to the numbers and placement of Corrections Personnel, and the duties of Personnel; (2) the restraint and escort of BMU inmates through the facility and during activities; (3) the utilization of video cameras." (Defs.' Opp. to Mot. to Compel at 2.)

On September 27, 2013, Judge Brown issued the BMU Order granting in part and denying in part Plaintiff's request that he be provided a full, unredacted copy of the BMU Policy. Judge Brown held that Defendants should unredact Paragraph 1.c. of Section V, subsection B, which sets forth the BMU's corrections officers' responsibilities concerning inmate medical care and distribution of medication. (BMU Order at 5.) He held that this portion appropriately related to Plaintiff's medical indifference claim and that the information did not present an obvious danger to law enforcement such that it should be kept confidential. (BMU Order at 5.) However, Judge Brown found that the law enforcement privilege applied to the other redacted portions of the BMU Policy because those portions "reveal the number and distribution of corrections officers and their respective security duties; the protocols for restraining and transporting BMU inmates; and the rules governing utilization of video cameras." (BMU Order at 6.) He further held that there appears to be little merit to Plaintiff's claims that the relevant information in the BMU Policy can be made available through other means, and that "[t]he importance of the redacted portions of the BMU Policy to plaintiff's excessive force claim is... attenuated." (BMU Order at 6-7.)

Additionally, and separate from any issue regarding the BMU Policy, Plaintiff "move[d] [on May 15, 2013] to request the appointment of a medical expert for trial testimony, or that the defendants be ordered to show cause why an expert witness should not be appointed...." (Pl.'s Mot. to Appoint Expert, Docket Entry 115, at 1.) Judge Brown denied this motion in his Electronic Order, holding that Plaintiff failed to meet the necessary conditions for appointment of an expert. (Electronic Order.)

DISCUSSION

Plaintiff objects to the BMU and Electronic Orders. The Court will first review the applicable legal standard before turning ...


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