Plaintiff Gains Access to Personal Computers and Email in Civil Rights Case

1 Jul 2016

In Sunderland v. Suffolk County et. al., Case No. 13-4838 (E.D.N.Y., June 14, 2016), a transgender prison inmate alleged “deliberate indifference to her medical needs” and failure to train staff on providing proper medical care to transgender inmates. Specifically, Plaintiff alleged that Defendants denied her access to her hormone therapy during her incarceration and treated her dismissively.

Plaintiff served discovery requests on Defendants seeking correspondence and documents related to gender dysphoria, gender identity, transgender status and sexual preference, including emails and documents containing certain search terms. The parties agreed upon search terms but Plaintiff requested that Defendants conduct searches on individual personal computers and email, and Defendants refused. Plaintiff filed a Motion to Compel, noting that Plaintiff had sued the individual Defendants in their individual capacities, not their official capacities.

The court agreed, ruling that Plaintiff had the right to seek emails and correspondence that may be saved on the individual Defendant’s personal computers or email sent and received via their personal accounts. The court found that the information sought fell under the broad scope of relevance under FRCP 26. The court found that Plaintiff had appropriately limited the request in time and in search terms and was not intrusive or burdensome. The court granted the Motion. The court further ordered that if Defendants asserted no responsive documents existed, they must submit affidavits attesting to that fact; if Defendants wanted to assert privacy or confidentiality as to any of the documents, they must be submitted for in camera review with explanations regarding the privilege assertion.

ILS – Plaintiff ESI Discovery Experts