Law firm's case involving pre-complaint discovery battle over medical records ends in dismissal

By Nicholas Malfitano | Jan 29, 2019

PHILADELPHIA – After nearly five months of litigation and discovery disputes, a case involving a company seeking to protect medical records from disclosure to pre-complaint discovery from a local law firm was recently dismissed.

According to a praecipe submitted on Nov. 19 by plaintiff James R. Radmore, it requested the court mark the litigation discontinued and ended without prejudice.

James R. Radmore, P.C. and The Radmore Firm, LLC of Philadelphia first 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 read.

“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.

In November, the litigation was then voluntarily ended by the plaintiff.

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

The defendants were 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 nick.malfitano@therecordinc.com

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Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, LLP

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