United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Brunswick Division
LISA VERONICA VARNADORE, individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of Decedent JOSHUA MARSHALL FOSKEY or as next friend of JENAA GRAYCE FOSKEY, Plaintiff,
BRANDON MERRITT, individually, Defendant.
GODBEY WOOD, CHIEF JUDGE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
before the Court are Defendant's Objections, dkt. no. 18,
to the Magistrate Judge's Order, dkt. no. 13. After an
independent and de novo review of the entire record,
the undersigned overrules Defendant's objections.
original complaint was filed with the Court on November 10,
2015. Varnadore v. Merritt, No. 2:15cvl60 (S.D. Ga.
Nov. 10, 2015), Dkt. No. 1. Though the discovery period was
set to end on July 20, 2016, the parties had agreed to take
both Plaintiff and Defendant's depositions on July 22,
2016, just outside of the discovery period. See Dkt. No. 18
at 2. On July 20, 2016, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Extend
Discovery, alleging that she could not attend her deposition
due to undisclosed medical reasons. No. 2:15cvl60, Dkt. No.
27. The Court granted the motion in part, providing fourteen
(14) additional days to complete party depositions but
ordering. Plaintiff to submit to the Court under seal all
medical records from her physician documenting her request.
Id., Dkt. No. 29. In the meantime, Defendant filed a
motion for summary judgment. Id., Dkt. No. 30. On
July 28, rather than respond to the Court's order or
Defendant's motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff filed
a motion to dismiss. Id., Dkt. No. 33. On August 9,
the Court issued an Order permitting the voluntary dismissal
but placing conditions on Plaintiff's ability to refile
the action, i.e., to pay all Courts costs before refiling
and, within ten (10) days of any attempt to refile, to show
cause why sanctions should not be imposed for failing to
provide medical records documenting an emergency condition
requiring cancellation of her July 2016 deposition.
Id., Dkt. No. 36.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S SHOW-CAUSE RULING
January 31, 2017, Plaintiff filed a new Complaint. Dkt. No.
1. In compliance with the first condition of the Court's
show-cause order, Plaintiff filed a motion directing
Defendant to itemize costs. Dkt. No. 2. Because Defendant
voluntarily waived the condition that Plaintiff pay those
costs, dkt. no. 7, the Magistrate Judge denied
Plaintiff's motion as moot.
in compliance with the second condition in the Court's
show-cause order, Plaintiff filed with the Court an
explanation detailing her unsuccessful attempt to secure
medical records from her physician and requesting the
Court's intervention. Dkt. No. 5-1. As the Magistrate
Judge noted in the parties' March 8, 2017 telephone
status conference, Plaintiff s physician appears to have a
misunderstanding of the regulations governing the release of
medical records to her patients, e.g. Plaintiff. Per her
letter, Plaintiff's physician simply would not release
Plaintiff s medical records without a Court order directing
her to do so. See e.g., Dkt. No. 5-1 at 5 (stating
that she would not "release [Plaintiff's] medical
record unless legally mandated"). The Magistrate Judge
found good cause for Plaintiffs failure to produce medical
records supporting her request for an emergency motion for
extension of discovery in the previous case. The Court
concurs with the Magistrate Judge's ruling.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER FOR LIMITED DISCOVERY
the parties' status conference on March 8, 2017, the
Magistrate Judge issued an Order permitting limited discovery
in the renewed action, that is, identification and deposition
of expert witnesses and depositions of witnesses taken not
for discovery but for use at trial. Dkt. No. 13 at 2.
objects to the Magistrate Judge's Order. He asks that the
Court "issue an Order that this case is to begin where
the previous case left off, in that discovery be deemed
closed, except for permitting the deposition of Ms. Varnadore
if defendant chooses, that all discovery from the previous
case be applicable to this case, and Plaintiff be given
twenty-one (21) days to respond to Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment." Dkt. No. 18 at 6. As Defendant notes,
however, the Court has broad discretion to modify the timing
and sequence of discovery "for the convenience of the
parties and witnesses and in the interests of justice."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(d); Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S.
574, 598 (1998). The Court has done just that. The Magistrate
Judge's order narrowly tailors discovery so as to not
waste time on written discovery already conducted and allow
only expert reports and trial-witness depositions. Indeed,
the claims at stake in this litigation trump any concern
.Defendant has that Plaintiff receive a "windfall"
from using Defendant's summary judgment motion as a
playbook for relitigating her case in the renewed action.
See Dkt. No. 18 at 3-5. The interests of justice
demand that the limited discovery ordered by the Magistrate
Judge, dkt. nos. 13, 14, be permitted to go forward.
objections to the Magistrate Judge's March 8, 2017 Order,
dkt. no. 13, are OVERRULED.