Dispute continues over the disclosure of medical records to law firm in pre-complaint discovery

By Nicholas Malfitano | Oct 5, 2018

PHILADELPHIA – A company seeking to protect medical records from disclosure to pre-complaint discovery from a local law firm has earned a split decision on a judicial order, where any records concerning the plaintiffs themselves will be provided and the remainder which are not will remain shielded.

James R. Radmore, P.C. and The Radmore Firm, LLC of Philadelphia filed a writ of summons in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on June 28 versus MRO Corporation and John Does 1-100.

Nearly six weeks later, MRO Corporation filed a motion for a protective order to quash the plaintiffs’ pre-complaint discovery, on the grounds that such activity should be precluded in its entirety because the requested information “is neither material nor necessary for plaintiffs to draft a complaint.”

“Additionally, the Court should quash plaintiffs’ notice of deposition because it was procedurally deficient and the witness’s testimony is not necessary for plaintiffs to draft a complaint,” the motion read.

Subsequent to the filing of the writ of summons, the plaintiffs also filed for pre-complaint discovery, including a notice of deposition for Stephen Hynes related to the subject of obtaining information on individuals charged more than $6.50 for patient records, and a request for the production of documents to MRO for the same.

On July 20, MRO objected to the pre-complaint discovery as “overbroad, unduly burdensome, and not necessary to the filing of the complaint,” and that “MRO would not be producing Mr. Hynes for a deposition due to the procedural deficiencies in the Notice of Deposition.”

“MRO also requested to confer with plaintiffs’ counsel to establish a mutually agreeable discovery schedule. To date, MRO has not received a response, nor have plaintiffs filed a proof of service of the writ,” the motion reads.

“Courts only allow pre-complaint discovery when it is narrowly drafted. The Court must weigh the importance of plaintiffs’ requested pre-complaint discovery against the burdens imposed on MRO by the request. Plaintiffs cannot defeat MRO’s motion for protective order because the requested pre-complaint discovery does not ‘materially advance’ plaintiffs’ preparation of the complaint.”

Additionally, MRO said the requests for records of all charges to others in excess of $6.50, whether or not in Pennsylvania, was “overly broad”, “unduly burdensome” and irrelevant, and that the patient information being sought was shielded under federal and state patient privacy laws.

On Aug. 29, the plaintiff replied with an answer to the motion, categorically opposing the denied requests for production of documents and other aspects to the protective order motion.

Then, on Sept. 12, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Paula Patrick decreed that the protective order motion was granted as to notice of the plaintiff’s deposition of Stephen Hynes and the notice was quashed.

Further, the motion was granted in part, as to the plaintiffs’ request for production of documents and the portion of plaintiffs’ request for documents that do not relate solely to plaintiffs, deeming it quashed.

The motion was denied in part as to the plaintiffs’ request for production of documents that relate solely to the plaintiff and the defendant was granted leave of 45 days from the date the order was docketed to respond to the remaining portion of that request.

On Oct. 2, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Lisette Shirdan-Harris issued a notice which announced that a case management conference had been rescheduled to Nov. 6, and “no further continuances will be granted absent exigent circumstances.”

“Counsel for plaintiff is directed to serve a copy of this notice on any unrepresented party and any attorney entering an appearance subsequent to the issuance of this notice. Counsel must be prepared to address all relevant issues,” Shirdan-Harris said.

The plaintiffs are represented by the Radmore firm itself, in Philadelphia.

The defendants are represented by Samantha J. Banks of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, also in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 180603591

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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