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Leland v. County of Yavapai

United States District Court, D. Arizona

March 15, 2019

Valerie Leland, et al., Plaintiffs,
County of Yavapai, et al., Defendants.




         This Report and Recommendation hereby amends the Order at Doc. 161 pursuant to LRCiv 72.2(a)(1), which requires a report and recommendation regarding the nature of relief.

         Plaintiffs Valerie Leland and Julia Muncy, the daughter and mother of Francis Naomi Wright, who died while detained in the Yavapai County Jail, brought this civil rights action for alleged constitutional and state law violations against Yavapai County, numerous County employees[1], Wexford Health Sources, Inc., and numerous Wexford employees[2]. (Doc. 13, Ex. 1.) Plaintiffs initiated this action in Yavapai County Superior Court on December 29, 2016. (Doc. 1.) In April 2017, Wexford Defendants removed the action to federal court. (Id.)

         A Case Management Order issued on November 2, 2017, allowing approximately one year for fact discovery and setting an expert disclosure and discovery schedule that provided for Plaintiffs' expert disclosures on or by May 4, 2018, Defendants' expert disclosures on or by June 22, 2018, and rebuttal expert disclosures due on or by August 13, 2018. (Docs. 28, 77, 93.) Rebuttal disclosures were expressly “limited to responding to opinions stated by initial experts.” (Id.) The Scheduling Order also set an expert depositions deadline for November 2, 2018. (Doc. 28) The Court's Order was clear about the extent of expert disclosure required by the above referenced deadlines:

As stated in the Advisory Committee Notes to Rule 26 (1993 Amendments), expert reports under Rule 26(a)(2)(B) must set forth “the testimony the witness is expected to present during direct examination, together with the reasons therefor.” Full and complete disclosures of such testimony are required on the dates set forth above; absent extraordinary circumstances, parties will not be permitted to supplement expert reports after these dates. The Court notes, however, that it usually permits parties to present opinions of their experts that were elicited by opposing counsel during depositions of the experts. Counsel should depose experts with this fact in mind.

         (Doc. 28 at 3, lines 10-17.)

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Exclude Untimely Expert Opinions (Doc. 131), to which a response (Doc. 134) and a reply (Doc. 138) have been filed. District Judge Logan referred this matter to undersigned (Docs. 14, 85, 144 at 3, lines 27-28). The Court will recommend that the District Judge grant the motion for the reasons set forth below and consistent with District Judge Logan's ruling on late expert disclosures by the County Defendants.[3] (Doc. 144.)

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs' claims stem from Wright's death during her confinement as a pretrial detainee in the Yavapai County Jail in 2016. (Doc. 13-1 ¶ 17.) In their First Amended Complaint, Plaintiffs allege the following:

         On May 9, 2016, Wright was arrested and booked into the County Jail. (Id.) During the booking process, she reported that she took drugs, that she had withdrawal problems, that she was currently detoxing, and that she had fainted or had a head injury within the past 6 months. (Id. ¶¶ 17-21.) Around 10:00 p.m. that night, Wright was assigned to the jail's infirmary for observation. (Id. ¶ 25.) Beginning the morning of May 10, 2016, Wright's health began to deteriorate, and she repeatedly requested medical assistance orally, in writing, and, eventually, through use of the emergency button in her cell. (Id. ¶¶ 31-38, 49, 52, 55, 63, 89.) Other detainees also called for help over the intercom system and emergency buttons in their cells. (Id. ¶¶ 64, 78, 84.) Wright suffered from headaches, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, tremors, chills, body aches, and syncope episodes, and she became more and more pale. (Id. ¶¶ 37, 41, 46, 52-53, 81, 90.) By the early morning of May 11, 2016, Wright began to suffer seizures and pass out, which caused her to hit her head on the floor. (Id. ¶¶ 58, 61, 75-77, 84.)

         County Defendant detention officers Winton, Barbey, Kellerman, Chavez, Russell, and Sergeant Valdez all interacted with Wright, directly observed her interactions with medical staff, and were present when she requested medical assistance or took her written requests for medical attention. (Id. ¶¶ 28, 30, 34, 37-38, 40, 44-45, 55.) Wright specifically requested assistance from Winton and Russell, but they walked away and did not help her. (Id. ¶¶ 55-56, 71-72.) Russell and Valdez responded to the cell when Wright passed out and fell and hit her head, and, after she passed out a second time, they revived her with smelling salts and thereafter joked about her condition. (Id. ¶¶ 76-79, 84-85, 87.) Neither Defendant nurses nor Defendant detention officers would help Wright, despite her requests for help. (Id. ¶¶ 89, 94.) Although Dr. Wilkinson was in the medical office across the hall from Wright's cell, he did not come out to check on Wright. (Id. ¶¶ 88, 96.) At approximately 4:00 p.m. on May 11, 2016, Wright was found dead. (Id. ¶ 95.)

         Plaintiffs set forth three claims for relief. In Count One, they assert Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on the denial of medical care. (Id. ¶¶ 97-102.) In Count Two, they assert a claim for wrongful death under Arizona Revised Statutes § 12-611. (Id. ¶¶ 103-109.) And in Count Three, Plaintiffs assert a Fourteenth Amendment claim under § 1983 based on interference with the right to family society and companionship. (Id. ¶¶ 110-112.)

         II. FEDERAL RULE OF ...

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