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Johnson v. Corecivic, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Eastern Division

October 10, 2019

CAROLYN JOHNSON, as survivor and next of kin of EARL WAYNE JOHNSON, Plaintiff,
v.
CORECIVIC, INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO COMPEL

          TU M. PHAM, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Before the court by order of reference is Carolyn Johnson's Motion to Compel Answers to Interrogatories and Production of Documents. (ECF Nos. 37 & 40.) For the reasons outlined below, the Motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Carolyn Johnson brings this lawsuit on behalf of her late husband, Earl Wayne Johnson, who was killed by another inmate while incarcerated at Hardeman County Correctional Facility (“HCCF”). (Am. Compl., ECF No. 11.) HCCF is operated by CoreCivic, Inc., a company that operates private prisons across the country. (Id.) Johnson alleges CoreCivic and three top executives at the company, Damon T. Hininger, Harley Lappin, and Grady Perry, engaged in a nationwide policy of understaffing prisons and failing to provide adequate medical care in order to boost profits. (Id.) Carolyn Johnson alleges that this understaffing policy affected HCCF and led to Earl Wayne Johnson's death. (Id.) CoreCivic and the individual defendants deny these allegations. (Answer, ECF No. 14.)

         On October 23, 2018 and October 25, 2018, Johnson served 17 requests for production and 9 interrogatories on CoreCivic. (ECF No. 37.) CoreCivic objected to all but one of the requests for production and all of the interrogatories. (ECF No. 38.) On July 5, 2019, Johnson filed the instant Motion to Compel. (ECF No. 37.) After the Motion was filed, the parties resolved their disputes regarding 5 interrogatories and 12 requests for production. (ECF No. 46.) The discovery requests still in dispute are the following:

• “REQUEST NO. 5: The Plaintiff requests all documents and communications reflecting arbitration awards, verdicts, judgments and/or settlements related to inmates who died since January 1, 2007 while they were in the custody of CoreCivic. The phrase ‘custody of CoreCivic' includes, but is not limited to, inmates who suffered injury or illness in a CoreCivic facility but later died at a hospital or while being transported to a hospital.”
• “REQUEST NO. 6: For the period January 1, 2007 to the present, the Plaintiff requests all documents and communications reflecting arbitration awards, verdicts, judgments and/or settlements related to injuries or illnesses of inmates in facilities operated or controlled by CoreCivic that did not result in death.”
• “REQUEST NO. 8: The Plaintiff requests all reports, documents, and communications (whether generated by CoreCivic or a government entity) that referenced or identified staffing shortages, improper inmate segregation, or misrepresentation of staffing levels since January 1, 2007 at any other facility operated or controlled by CoreCivic.” Johnson has agreed to limit this request to “all reports.”
• “REQUEST NO. 14: For every employee at Hardeman County Correctional Facility who resigned, retired or was terminated since January 1, 2014, the Plaintiff requests all documents and/or communications that explain why the employee is no longer employed by CoreCivic. If, for example, an email explains that a particular employee was offered the opportunity to resign in lieu of termination, then that email should be produced.” Johnson has agreed to limit this request to the period since January 1, 2016.
• “REQUEST NO. 17: The Plaintiff requests all reports, documents, audits, and communications generated between January 1, 2007 and the present that reference cost savings that CoreCivic derived from understaffing guards at facilities that it owned or operated. This request includes, but is not limited to, reports, documents, and audits produced externally (e.g., by government entities or by outside auditors) or internally by CoreCivic personnel. The phrase ‘understaffing guards' refers to any occasion during which the number of guards at a CoreCivic facility was below the amount required by government regulation or contract. The phrase ‘cost savings' refers to the difference between (1) what CoreCivic would have spent on guards if a facility was staffed with the number of guards required by regulation or contract, versus (2) what it actually spent on guards as a result of reduced staffing.”
• “INTERROGATORY NO. 1: For each year from 2007 until the present, state the amount that CoreCivic has paid or been ordered to pay in arbitration awards, verdicts, judgments and/or settlements resulting from the deaths of inmates. Please segregate these figures for each year according to the amounts paid for (1) assault-related deaths; (2) deaths resulting from alleged medical neglect or malpractice; and (3) deaths resulting from other causes. Please further segregate these figures according to the amounts paid for deaths at (1) Hardeman County Correctional Facility and (2) all other facilities owned or operated by CoreCivic.”
• “INTERROGATORY NO. 2: For each year from 2007 until the present, state the amount that CoreCivic has paid or been ordered to pay in arbitration awards, verdicts, judgments and/or settlements resulting from inmate injuries or illnesses that did not result in death. Please segregate these figures for each year according to the amounts paid for (1) assault-related injuries; (2) alleged medical neglect or malpractice; and (3) other causes. Please further segregate these figures according to the amounts paid at (1) Hardeman County Correctional Facility and (2) all other facilities owned or operated by CoreCivic.”
• “INTERROGATORY NO. 3: For each year from 2007 until the present, state the gross and net profit that CoreCivic derived (1) from Hardeman County Correctional Facility and (2) from its (i.e., CoreCivic's) overall operations.”
• “INTERROGATORY NO. 9: For each year from 2007 until the present, state the cost savings that CoreCivic derived from understaffing guards at facilities that it owned or operated. Please segregate these figures for each year according to the amounts saved at (1) Hardeman County Correctional Facility and (2) all other facilities owned or operated by CoreCivic. The phrase “understaffing guards” refers to any occasion during which the number of guards at a CoreCivic facility was below the amount required by government regulation or contract. The phrase “cost savings” refers to the difference between (1) what CoreCivic would have spent on guards if a facility was staffed with the number of guards required by regulation or contract, versus (2) what it actually spent on guards as a result of reduced staffing. If you are unable to determine a correct figure (e.g., because of inadequate record keeping), then please explain why.”

         II. ...


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