HARRISBURG - A health care company lost its appeal in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.
Appellant Grane Healthcare Co. previously filed motions for protective orders in their lawsuit with Sandra Shaffer, who is representing the estate of Rose M. Leonard.
On Oct. 3, the court affirmed the prior ruling. The trial court had granted part of the appellants' motion and denied the rest. The documents in question will be watermarked with a confidential symbol and can only be used by the law firm currently representing Shaffer.
Shaffer alleges negligence on the part of the appellants. Her mother, Rose M. Leonard, died in 2015 after staying at nursing facilities controlled by the appellants. According to the court, “during her mother’s multiple admissions to Laurelwood and Amber Springs over a course of time spanning from Sept. 24, 2013 through March 20, 2015, Laurelwood and Amber Springs were ‘collectively managed, operated, owned, and/or controlled’ by GHC.”
Shaffer’s complaint argues that her mother’s death was hastened by the sub-standard care she received at the nursing facilities. Leonard developed injuries including “the development and worsening of a necrotic stage IV pressure ulcer to her right heel, which resulted in osteomyelitis, [an] infection, in the right heel bone, urinary tract infections, and a deep tissue injury to her right calf, poor hygiene, severe pain and ultimately death.”
Appellants filed motions for protective orders in April 2017. The motions regarded their budgets, employee files and meeting minutes. The appellants asked that Shaffer be prohibited from making any other use of the documents than the current litigation. They also asked that the documents be destroyed after the suit was settled.
There are specific arguments that the appellants needed to advance to reverse the trial court ruling.
However, the court remarked that, “Appellants totally disregard these factors, and consequently present an underdeveloped argument. Without arguing these factors, we cannot ascertain if the Home Office Cost Reports should be afforded trade secret status. In effect, Appellants are asking us to take their word that the information is confidential and commercially sensitive without providing any support.”