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Gladu v. Correct Care Solutions

United States District Court, D. Maine

April 7, 2017

NICHOLAS A. GLADU, Plaintiff,
v.
CORRECT CARE SOLUTIONS, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON OBJECTIONS TO THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S NON-DISPOSITIVE ORDERS

          JOHN A. WOODCOCK, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The Court rejects the Plaintiff's objections to three of the Magistrate Judge's non-dispositive orders on the grounds that the orders are neither clearly erroneous nor contrary to law.[1]

         I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On September 23, 2015, Nicholas A. Gladu filed a complaint with this Court against Correct Care Solutions and a number of individual defendants, alleging that while confined in the Maine State Prison and Maine Correctional Center, he did not receive proper medical treatment for bilateral hip pain and that the Defendants retaliated against him for filing grievances within the prison system. Verified Compl. for Damages and Inj. Relief (ECF No. 1). On December 21, 2015, Correct Care Solutions, Robert Clinton, M.D., George Stockwell, D.O., and Wendy Riebe (the Correct Care Defendants) answered the Complaint, denying its essential allegations and raising affirmative defenses. Answer, Defenses and Affirmative Defenses of Defs. Correct Care Solutions, Robert Clinton, M.D., George Stockwell, M.D. and Wendy Riebe, HSA to Pl.'s Verified Compl. (ECF No. 61).

         Before the Court are three objections that Mr. Gladu has made to orders of the Magistrate Judge: (1) to the Magistrate Judge's Sanctions Order, Pl.'s Obj. to Magistrate Judge's Recommended Order on Mots. for Sanctions Pursuant to Rule 72(b), Fed.R.Civ.P. (ECF No. 316) (Sanctions Obj.); (2) to the Magistrate Judge's Scheduling Order and motion to extend time, Pl.'s Obj. to the Magistrate Judge's Order on Pl.'s Mots. to Amend Scheduling Order and Mot. to Extend Time (ECF No. 327) (Sch. Obj.); and (3) to a request for the Court to take judicial notice. Pl.'s Opp'n to Defs.' Req. for the Ct. to Take Judicial Notice (ECF No. 349) (Judicial Notice Obj.).

         On March 20, 2017, the Correct Care Defendants responded to Mr. Gladu's objection to the Sanctions Order. Defs.' Correct Care Solutions, Robert Clinton, M.D., George Stockwell, D.O. and Wendy Riebe's Resp. to Pl.'s Obj. to Magistrate Judge's Order on Mot. for Sanctions (ECF No. 329) (Correct Care's Sanctions Resp.). On March 27, 2017, the Correct Care Defendants responded to Mr. Gladu's objection to the Scheduling Order. Defs. Correct Care Solutions, Robert Clinton, M.D., George Stockwell, D.O. and Wendy Riebe's Resp. to Pl.'s Obj. to Magistrate Judge's Order on Mots. to Amend Scheduling Order and Mot. to Extend Time (ECF No. 338) (Correct Care's Scheduling Order Resp.). The time period for the Correct Care Defendants to respond to the motion on judicial notice has not expired, and they have not yet responded; nevertheless, as the Court's ruling on Mr. Gladu's motion is especially clear, the Court will not await a responsive pleading from the Correct Care Defendants before deciding Mr. Gladu's judicial notice motion.

         II. THE SANCTIONS ORDER ON SPOLIATION

         Turning first to the Magistrate Judge's Sanctions Order, Mr. Gladu filed a motion for sanctions against the Correct Care Defendants on January 11, 2017. Pl.'s Mot. for the Ct. to Impose Sanctions (ECF No. 281). In his motion, Mr. Gladu alleged that the Correct Care Defendants had “intentionally withheld, hid, or altered medical information” in his medical record on matters relevant to his lawsuit. Id. at 1. On February 1, 2017, the Correct Care Defendants responded by arguing that Mr. Gladu had not properly alleged a spoliation issue because there was no allegation that the Correct Care Defendants improperly altered or damaged evidence so as to cause Mr. Gladu unfair prejudice. Defs. Correct Care Solutions, Robert Clinton, M.D., George Stockwell, D.O. and Wendy Riebe's Obj. to Pl.'s Mot. for the Imposition of Sanctions at 2 (ECF No. 293). On February 24, 2017, the Magistrate Judge denied Mr. Gladu's motion for sanctions, concluding that Mr. Gladu had failed to allege that his medical records had been “spoiled” within the legal meaning of the term. Order on Mot. for Sanctions at 1 (ECF No. 311) (Sanctions Order). In Mr. Gladu's objection, he repeats his contention that the Correct Care Defendants destroyed, altered, and hid vital medical records. Sanctions Obj. at 1.

         Mr. Gladu's objection betrays a misunderstanding of the legal concept of spoliation. The Magistrate Judge properly quoted the First Circuit Court of Appeals' teaching on spoliation: “[T]he party urging that spoliation has occurred must show that there is evidence that has been spoiled (i.e., destroyed or not preserved).” Sanctions Order at 1 (quoting Gomez v. Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., 670 F.3d 395, 399 (1st Cir. 2012)). Although Mr. Gladu maintains that he gave a history to Correct Care's medical personnel that does not appear in the medical records, the medical record-accurate or not-exists, and Mr. Gladu would be free at trial to question witnesses about the completeness and accuracy of the extant record.

         This contrasts with the situation where the Correct Care Defendants, placed on notice of Mr. Gladu's claim, destroyed the medical record. See Barry v. Corizon, Inc., No. 2:14-cv-00527-JDL, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99211, at *25-26, n.7 (D. Me. Jul. 29, 2016) (quoting Testa v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 144 F.3d 173, 177 (1st Cir. 1998) (“[A] party who destroys a document (or permits it to be destroyed) when facing litigation, knowing the document's relevancy to issues in the case, may well do so out of a sense that the document's contents hurt his position”)). There is no evidence in this case that the Correct Care Defendants ever did such a thing, and therefore Mr. Gladu is not entitled to sanctions against them for destroying or spoiling evidence that has not been destroyed or spoiled.

         III. THE ORDER ON THE SCHEDULING ORDER

         Turning next to the Scheduling Order, the Magistrate Judge issued a scheduling order on January 27, 2016. Scheduling Order (ECF No. 73). The Scheduling Order set April 11, 2016, as the deadline for amending the pleadings, for the joinder of parties, and for the Plaintiff to designate experts. Id. at 1-2. The Magistrate Judge amended the Order on February 22, 2016, to clarify a trial ready date of October 31, 2016, not November 7, 2016. Notice (ECF No. 88).

         On April 11, 2016, Mr. Gladu moved to amend the Scheduling Order to extend the deadline for joinder of parties and to designate experts. Pl.'s Mot. to Amend Scheduling Order (ECF No. 117). In the motion, Mr. Gladu states that his access to the law library has impeded his ability to present a timely and effective case, and he requests “additional time to get caught up with his legal work.” Id. He did not request a specific amount of time. Id. On May 3, 2016, the Magistrate Judge issued an order in which he granted Mr. Gladu's motion and extended his deadlines to amend his pleadings, to join parties, and to designate experts to May 20, 2016. Order on Mots. at 1-2 (ECF No. 124). Likewise, the Magistrate Judge extended the Defendants' expert witness deadline to June 24, 2016. Id. at 2. On December 4, 2016, the Magistrate Judge further amended the Scheduling Order to allow the parties to file dispositive motions thirty days after the Court ruled on a motion to amend the complaint, which was pending at the time. Order (ECF No. 234).

         On November 21, 2016, Mr. Gladu again moved to amend the Scheduling Order. Pl.'s Mot. for the Court to Amend the Scheduling Order (ECF No. 227). He asked for a stay of proceedings for sixty days to resolve outstanding discovery issues. Id. at 1. On December 6, 2016, the Correct Care Defendants objected to Mr. Gladu's motion to amend the Scheduling Order and request for a stay. Defs. Correct Care Solutions, Robert Clinton, M.D., George Stockwell, D.O. and Wendy Riebe's Obj. to Pl.'s Mot. to Amend the Scheduling Order and Req. for a Stay of the Proceedings (ECF No. 237). On February 24, 2017, the Magistrate Judge rejected Mr. Gladu's motion to amend the Scheduling Order and request for stay, noting that the case had been pending since September 2015, that the Defendants would be prejudiced by a stay, that the Defendants ...


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