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Williams v. Fischer

United States District Court, W.D. New York

June 4, 2015

ADRIENNE WILLIAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
BRIAN FISCHER, et al., Defendants.

ORDER

HUGH B. SCOTT, Magistrate Judge.

Before the Court is plaintiff's motion granting her leave to amend her pro se Complaint (cf. Docket No. 1), and to reopen discovery for limited categories (Docket No. 45). The current Amended Scheduling Order (Docket No. 44) scheduled plaintiff's present motion to be filed by April 24, 2015, and held in abeyance the dispositive motion deadline (see also Docket Nos. 40, 42, 46). Responses to this motion were due by May 15, 2015, and replies were due by May 22, 2015 (Docket No. 46). In support of her motion, plaintiff filed her new attorney's Declaration (with the proposed Amended Complaint and redline version as exhibits); her Memorandum of Law (Docket No. 45) and her attorney's Reply Declaration (Docket No. 48). In opposition, defendants submit their attorney's Declaration (Docket No. 47).

BACKGROUND

This is a civil rights action initially commenced by plaintiff as an inmate pro se, alleging deliberate indifference in denying her pain medication in April 2012 and insufficiently treating her complications from a hysterectomy while incarcerated at the Albion Correctional Facility in September 2010 (Docket No. 1, Compl.). She moved for leave to proceed in forma pauperis (Docket No. 2), which was granted in part, although some defendants (Fischer, Rim, and Lowerre) were dismissed (Docket No. 7). Defendants answered (Docket No. 11).

Plaintiff applied for appointment of counsel (Docket Nos. 15, 21) and was denied (Docket Nos. 17, 22). Plaintiff later was released (Docket No. 45, Pl. Atty. Decl. ¶ 20; see Docket No. 23) and, on May 9, 2014, renewed her request for appointment of counsel (Docket No. 27; see also Docket No. 36). On January 13, 2015, this Court appointed Sheldon Smith, Esq., to represent plaintiff (Docket No. 40).

Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to Amend Complaint and Reopen Discovery

Plaintiff now moves to amend the Complaint to delete from the caption and document defendants that were dismissed from the action (Docket No. 45, Pl. Atty. Decl. ¶¶ 4, 6, Exs. A, B). She also seeks to clarify and update and reinforce certain allegations (id.). She wants to reopen discovery (which was due under the Amended Scheduling Order to be completed by August 7, 2014, Docket No. 28; Docket No. 45, Pl. Atty. Decl. ¶ 11) for her deliberate indifference claims and to depose remaining defendants and other witnesses (Docket No. 45, Pl. Atty. Decl. ¶¶ 14, 22-23). For example, plaintiff points out that defendants' claim that she would "cheek" medication, hence denying further medicine, but did not document the violation creates a factual dispute and a justification to explore in discovery (id. ¶ 15). The underlying documents for plaintiff's disciplinary proceedings were not produced (id. ¶ 17).

Defendants object to leave to amend the Complaint since the Scheduling Order (and its subsequent amendments) did not extend plaintiff's deadline to amend pleadings (Docket No. 47, Defs. Atty. Decl. ¶ 8). They also contend that any amendment would be futile since denial of medication is not a due process violation (id. ¶¶ 12-13) and fails to state a claim because they are time barred under the applicable statute of limitations (id. ¶¶ 14-15). The newly alleged deprivation of due process surrounding the denied medication occurred on April 17, 2012, but plaintiff moved for leave on April 24, 2015, beyond the three-year statute of limitations under New York Civil Practice Law and Rules 214(2) (id. ¶¶ 17-18, 16).

Defendants also oppose reopening discovery since plaintiff was given her relevant medical records from the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision ("DOCCS") and Strong Memorial Hospital within the discovery deadline of August 2014 (id. ¶¶ 23-24). Defendants argue that depositions are not necessary to examine and interpret plaintiff's medical record (id. ¶ 28). As for her disciplinary record, defendants assert that the disciplinary records produced in their initial disclosure was complete, providing plaintiff's disciplinary history and the violation codes are listed within published department regulations (id. ¶¶ 29-32). Defendants next argue that fifteen of plaintiff's disciplinary incidents are for incidents not relevant to plaintiff's present claims (id. ¶¶ 33-36) and would be unduly burdensome to produce (id. ¶ 37). The remaining two disciplinary incidents involve charges of unauthorized medicine in July 2011, ten months prior to the incidents at issue in this case in April 2012 (id. ¶¶ 38-39, 40). Defendants conclude that these disciplinary incidents are not relevant to her case (id. ¶¶ 40, 37).

Plaintiff seeks to depose Dr. Gwendolyn Cole-Hoover, a former employee of DOCCS at Albion Correctional Facility, but defendants oppose and do not consent to plaintiff contacting Dr. Cole-Hoover (id. ¶ 48). Defendants, however, do not state why they oppose the contact or examination of a former employee.

In reply, plaintiff notes that defendants only oppose relief to her without citing authority for their opposition or stating any prejudice to them (Docket No. 48, Pl. Atty. Reply Decl. ¶ 3). Defendants seem not to oppose amending the caption of the Complaint or object to the aesthetic changes plaintiff proposes in her amendment (id. ¶¶ 4-5). Plaintiff denies that she is adding a procedural due process claim; rather, she argues that she is merely clarifying and enhancing claims already raised and those claims relate back to the earlier pleading, hence not time barred (id. ¶¶ 6-7, 10), see Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(c). She also denies that defendants suffered any prejudice from the amendment (id. ¶ 12).

As for reopening discovery, plaintiff replies that defendants do not claim any prejudice to reopening discovery while attempting to take advantage of plaintiff while she was a pro se litigant (id. ¶ 13) and equity favors a short extension of time for completing discovery where defendants received numerous extensions to file dispositive motions (id. ¶ 14). Plaintiff argues that defendants took away her medication as punishment and it was not a medical decision, hence the deposition of defendants, especially Dr. Nathan to explain the change in position regarding furnishing medication to plaintiff and the illegibility of some documents in her medical records should be held (id. ¶¶ 17, 18-19, 24, 26). This punitive denial of medication is also related to plaintiff's disciplinary history; hence discovery of that disciplinary record is relevant (id. ¶ 22).

DISCUSSION

I. Applicable ...


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