United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Florence Division
E. Rogers, III United States Magistrate Judge.
who are proceeding pro se, bring this action alleging
violations of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3601
et al. Presently before the court is Defendant's
Motion to Compel (Document # 29). All pretrial proceedings in
this case have been referred to the undersigned pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and Local Rule 73.02(B)(2)(e).
served Interrogatories and Requests for Production on both
Plaintiffs on April 27, 2016. Counsel for Defendant agreed to
extend Plaintiffs' deadline to respond to the requests
until June 30, 2016. On August 8, 2016, Defendant filed the
present motion, noting that Plaintiffs had failed to file any
responses to its discovery requests. On September 6, 2016,
Plaintiffs filed their response (Document # 30), stating that
“[w]e are making progress [on their discovery
responses] every day and will forward them to Defendant's
attorney as soon as they are complete, whether or
not there is a COURT ORDER COMPELLING
DISCOVERY.” However, they did indicate that they would
be objecting to the production of any medical records. On
December 27, 2016, Defendants submitted a letter (Document #
33) stating that Plaintiffs served insufficient discovery
responses on November 22, 2016, and attaching a copy of
Interrogatories regarding medical information
1 and 2 to Plaintiff Crotty request information regarding all
medical service providers who have diagnosed Plaintiff Crotty
with PTSD, spinal stenosis, and/or lumbar degenerative disc
disease and any treatment she received for those conditions.
In addition to these questions, counsel for Defendant
requested that Plaintiff complete a VA Form 10-5345,
Request for and Authorization to Release Medical Records
or Heath Information.
Crotty objected to producing this information, arguing that
it is not necessary for Defendant, or this court or a jury to
determine whether she is disabled because “the
appropriate Federal authority, acting under current federal
law, has already established that fact.” Pl. Crotty Resp.
to Int. 1 (Ex. D to Def. Letter). However, Defendants note
that Plaintiffs are seeking damages for Plaintiff
Crotty's “medical care and professional counseling,
” and “pain and suffering” which includes
“emotional distress.” Amended Rule 26(a)(1)
Initial Disclosures and Preliminary Personal Damages
Worksheet (Ex. 6 to Def. Motion).
of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that
evidence is discoverable if it is relevant to any party's
claims or defenses and proportional to the needs of the case.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has
declared that “[d]iscovery under the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure is broad in scope and freely
permitted.” Carefirst of Md., Inc. v.
Carefirst Pregnancy Ctrs., Inc., 334 F.3d 390, 402 (4th
Cir.2003) (emphasis added) A plaintiff's medical history
and health care records are discoverable when the plaintiff
chooses to seek damages for emotional distress. Coffin v.
Bridges, 72 F.3d 126, 1995 WL 729489, at *2 (4th
Cir.1995); see also Teague v. Target Corp., No.
3:06-cv-191, 2006 WL 3690642, at *1 (W.D. N.C. Dec. 11, 2006)
(ordering production of information identifying
plaintiff's health care providers, pharmacies, as well as
signed authorizations for the release of medical and pharmacy
records, stating that “[s]ince Plaintiff is seeking
compensatory damages for emotional distress, it is clear that
the information and records sought by the Defendant are
discoverable”); EEOC v. Smith Bros. Truck Garage,
Inc., No. 7:09-CV-00150-H, 2011 WL 102724, at *1-2, 4
(E.D. N.C. Jan. 11, 2011) (unpublished) (finding that, where
plaintiff sought compensation for emotional distress,
inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, humiliation, and
loss of self-esteem, defendant had right to explore the
party's medical records for other causes of emotional
distress damages) (citing EEOC v. Sheffield Fin.
LLC, No. 1:06CV00889, 2007 WL 1726560, at *4 (M.D. N.C.
June 13, 2007)); Carr v. Double T Diner, No.
WMN-10-CV-00230, 2010 WL 3522428, at *1-3 (D.Md. Sept. 8,
2010) (unpublished) (granting defendant's motion to
compel discovery of plaintiff's medical records related
to her mental health where plaintiff placed mental health at
issue by seeking damages grounded in emotional distress);
Jimoh v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing P'ship,
Inc., No. 3:08-CV-495-RJC-DCK, 2009 WL 4062881, at
*1(W.D. N.C. Nov. 20, 2009)(finding that plaintiff's
medical records were subject to discovery where she claimed
compensatory damages for emotional distress, pain and
suffering, and mental anguish thus placing her mental
condition at issue) (citing Coffin, 1995 WL 729489,
at *3, and Sheffield, 2007 WL 1726560, at *4); Fields v.
West Virginia State Police, 264 F.R.D. 260, 263
(S.D.W.Va.2010) (“If a plaintiff has placed his or her
mental or physical health in issue, then any records
in the plaintiff's possession relating to that issue
should be produced.... A party should promptly and without
objection answer questions regarding health issues which that
party places in issue.” (emphasis added)).
Plaintiff Crotty has placed her health at issue by alleging
that Defendant's actions caused her health problems and
seeking damages for those health problems, her medical
information is relevant and Plaintiff must provide the
information sought by Defendants as well as sign a release to
allow Defendants to obtain those records within ten days of
the date of this order.
Interrogatories requesting information regarding
Plaintiff's requests for accommodation
3-7 to Plaintiff Crotty request information regarding the
oral and written requests Plaintiff made to Defendant for a
reasonable accommodation due to her disabilities. Plaintiff
Crotty provides a narrative of when she made such requests
but does not provide specific information requested by
Defendant such as the names, addresses and/or telephone
numbers of the individuals to whom she made the requests.
Plaintiff Crotty does not make an objection to providing that