United States District Court, D. Maryland
SHARON BOST, individually and as personal representative of the ESTATE OF FATIMA NEAL, Plaintiff,
WEXFORD HEALTH SOURCES, INC., Defendants.
Lipton Hollander United States District Judge
Memorandum addresses the Objection (ECF 178) filed by
plaintiff Sharon Bost as to discovery rulings made by U.S.
Magistrate Judge A. David Copperthite. See ECF 166;
ECF 171; ECF 176. No hearing is necessary to resolve the
Objection. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons
that follow, I shall deny the Objection.
action arises from the unfortunate death of Fatima Neal (the
"Decedent") in 2012, who suffered a stroke while
she was detained at the Baltimore City Detention Center
("BCDC"). Sharon Bost, the Decedent‘s mother,
filed this suit on October 27, 2015, both individually and as
the personal representative of the Estate of Neal. ECF
First Amended Complaint (ECF 56) ("Amended
Complaint"), which is the operative pleading, Bost sued
a host of defendants: Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
("Wexford"); the State of Maryland
("State"); BCDC; medical staff employed by Wexford,
including Anike Ajayi, R.N.; Elizabeth Obadina, R.N.; Ebre
Ohaneje, R.N.; Najma Jamal, R.N.; Karen McNulty, R.N.; Andrea
Wiggins, P.A.; Getachew Afre, M.D.; Jocelyn El-Sayed, M.D.;
Obby Atta, C.R.N.P.; twenty-five unnamed medical service
providers; various BCDC employees, including Shavella Miles,
Carol McKnight, Valerie Alves, Cierra Ladson, Gwendolyn
Oliver, Carolyn Atkins, Rickey Foxwell, Carol Harmon, and
twenty-five unnamed "custody officers" at BCDC.
Id. ¶¶ 40-48. I shall refer collectively
to the individual health care providers as the "Medical
Defendants." And, I shall refer to the BCDC employees
collectively as the "Custody Defendants."
Amended Complaint, Bost asserted several claims for relief.
The "First Claim for Relief, " lodged against all
defendants, is brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the
denial of adequate medical care, in violation of the Eighth
and Fourteenth Amendments. ECF 56, ¶¶ 153-68. The
Second Claim for Relief is brought only against Wexford under
42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging an unconstitutional policy
and practice of denial of medical care (the
"Monell Claim"). Id. ¶¶
169-86. See Monell v. New York City Dep't of Soc.
Servs., 436 U.S. 658 (1978). The Third Claim for Relief,
against all defendants, asserts a claim under Article 24 of
the Maryland Declaration of Rights for deprivation of life
without judgment of one‘s peers. Id.
¶¶ 187-206. In her fourth claim, Bost alleged a
claim against Wexford and the Medical Defendants for medical
malpractice. Id. ¶¶ 207-17. The fifth
claim asserted negligence against the State, BCDC, and the
Custody Defendants. Id. ¶¶ 218-25. In
addition, as to all defendants, Bost asserted a sixth claim
for intentional infliction of emotional distress
(id. ¶¶ 226-37) and a seventh claim for
wrongful death. Id. ¶¶
Court circulated a proposed scheduling order on March 9,
2016. ECF 30. Thereafter, the Court discussed the proposed
scheduling order with counsel during a telephone conference
held on April 18, 2016. See Docket. My notes of that
conference reflect - and I recall - that during the telephone
conference plaintiff asked for 150 deposition hours. I do not
recall any objection. Nevertheless, I expressed to counsel my
view that 150 hours of depositions appeared excessive.
Although I agreed to 100 hours of depositions, I indicated
that, in a case of this kind, 100 hours is quite generous.
However, in my notes, I wrote that the number of deposition
hours could be increased, "if needed." In addition,
in lieu of the initial proposed discovery deadline of August
17, 2016 (ECF 30 at 3), defendants sought 18 months to
complete discovery, while plaintiff sought 15 months.
Scheduling Order followed on April 19, 2016. ECF 44. It sets
a discovery deadline of June 30, 2017, consistent with
plaintiff‘s request. Id. at 2. In addition,
the Scheduling Order provided for 100 hours of depositions
exclusive of for fact witnesses, i.e.,
experts. Id. at 3.
the first three months of 2017, the parties filed several
discovery motions. See ECF 128 (plaintiff‘s
motion to compel); ECF 131 (Wexford‘s motion for
protective order); ECF 136 (Custody Defendants‘ motion
for protective order); ECF 150 (plaintiff‘s motion to
compel); ECF 154 (motion for extension of time to complete
discovery and extension of allotted deposition
hours). The Objection pertains to Judge
Copperthite‘s rulings as to Bost‘s "Motion
For An Extension Of Discovery Deadlines And Allotted
Deposition Hours, " filed on March 13, 2017. ECF 154
("Motion for Extension").
Motion for Extension, plaintiff sought an additional 60 days
to complete discovery, "starting on the date that the
last of the currently pending discovery motions are resolved,
" and an additional 50 hours of deposition time.
Id. According to plaintiff, an extension of the
discovery deadline and provision of additional deposition
hours are warranted because of alleged obstructionism in
discovery on the part of Wexford, in addition to the pendency
of several discovery disputes. ECF 154-1 at 25-26. Plaintiff
claimed that without an extension, she would "suffer
substantial prejudice." Id. at 26.
the various discovery motions were pending, Wexford and the
Medical Defendants (ECF 130) and the Custody Defendants (ECF
135) moved to bifurcate plaintiff‘s Monell
Claim, and to stay discovery as to that claim. By Memorandum
Opinion (ECF 159) and order (ECF 160) of May 8, 2017, I
granted ECF 130 and ECF 135. In my Memorandum Opinion, I
explained that bifurcation of the Monell Claim was
appropriate in order to conserve resources, promote judicial
efficiency, and to avoid a significant risk of prejudice to
the individual defendants. ECF 159 at 27. In addition, I
determined that after the resolution of the claims against
the individual defendants, the Court will issue a scheduling
order concerning the Monell Claim, providing a
reasonable period for discovery and for the filing of
dispositive motions. Id.
after I resolved the motions to bifurcate and stay discovery,
Judge Copperthite issued several orders resolving the pending
discovery disputes. In particular, in ECF 161, Judge
Copperthite denied plaintiff‘s motion to compel (ECF
128), "without prejudice in light of Court's Ruling
[in] ECF 159." In ECF 162, Judge Copperthite denied
Wexford‘s motion for protective order (ECF 131),
without prejudice. In ECF 163, Judge Copperthite denied the
Custody Defendants‘ motion for protective order (ECF
136), without prejudice. And, in ECF 164, Judge Copperthite
denied plaintiff‘s second motion to compel (ECF 150),
"without prejudice in light of Court's Ruling [in]
ECF 159." In ECF 166, Judge Copperthite denied the
Motion for Extension (ECF 154), without prejudice, "in
light of the Court's Ruling [in] ECF 159-60." On
June 5, 2017, plaintiff filed an objection (ECF 167) to Judge
Copperthite‘s ruling (ECF 166) denying the Motion for
Extension (ECF 154). Plaintiff also filed an objection (ECF
168) to Judge Copperthite‘s ruling (ECF 161) denying
plaintiff‘s motion to compel (ECF 128). By Order of
June 8, 2017 (ECF 169), Judge Copperthite rescinded his
rulings (ECF 161; ECF 166) underlying the objections. In view
of Judge Copperthite‘s Order rescinding ECF 161 and ECF
166, I denied the two objections (ECF 167; ECF 168) as moot,
without prejudice, by Order of June 8, 2017. ECF 170.
Thereafter, Judge Copperthite issued an eight-page letter
order concerning the motion to compel (ECF 128) and the
Motion for Extension (ECF 154). ECF 171.
Judge Copperthite granted in part and denied in part
plaintiff‘s motion to compel (ECF 128). Id. at
1. He said: "[T]his Court finds that Plaintiffs'
requests are, for discovery purposes, relevant to the claims
of the individual medical defendants alleged."
Id. at 3. Judge Copperthite also said:
"Discovery will therefore be permitted, subject to any
limitations set forth in this Order, so long as the discovery
sought by Plaintiff is not privileged." Id.
Accordingly, he granted the motion to compel as to additional
depositions of Afre and McNulty, allowing four hours for
Afre‘s deposition and two hours for McNulty‘s
deposition. Id. But, Judge Copperthite denied the
motion to compel as to Jamal, Ohaneje, Ajayi, and Harmon, for
reasons explained in his letter order. Id.
addition, Judge Copperthite extended the discovery deadline
to August 15, 2017. Id. at 8. He said, id.:
It is important to note here that this case has lingered in
discovery and motions since its filing in October of 2015.
While one may argue that the delay may not be unusual given
the nature of the case and the complexities of individual
medical defendants and Wexford, this Court has a vested
interest in moving this case toward conclusion.
26, 2017, plaintiff filed a request for a status conference
to seek "clarification of the Court‘s June 19,
2017 decision granting in part and denying in part
Plaintiff‘s motion to compel and motion for an
extension of discovery deadlines and deposition hours."
ECF 172. In particular, plaintiff said, id. at 1:
Although the court ruled on Plaintiff‘s request for
additional hours to question each party Defendant about
investigations into Ms. Neal‘s death, the Court‘s
ruling did not address Plaintiff‘s request - made not
as part of her motion to compel but instead as part of her
motion for an extension of discovery deadlines - for
additional deposition hours to ...