Pauly et al v. Stanford Health Care

Filing 78

ORDER RE FIRST DISCOVERY LETTER granting in part and denying in part 72 Discovery Letter Brief. (Illston, Susan) (Filed on 9/7/2021)Any non-CM/ECF Participants have been served by First Class Mail to the addresses of record listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF)

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Case 3:18-cv-05387-SI Document 78 Filed 09/07/21 Page 1 of 3 1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 MAKENZIE PAULY, et al., Plaintiffs, 8 9 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 Case No. 18-cv-05387-SI ORDER RE FIRST DISCOVERY LETTER v. STANFORD HEALTH CARE, Re: Dkt. No. 72 Defendant. 12 13 On August 17, 2021, plaintiff Makenzie Pauly filed a first discovery letter regarding three 14 subpoenas issued by defendant Stanford Health Care (“defendant’s subpoenas”). Dkt. No. 72. On 15 August 20, 2021, defendant filed a letter in response. Dkt. No. 74. For the reasons stated below, 16 the Court modifies defendant’s subpoenas to matters concerning plaintiff’s physical injuries during 17 November 2008 and December 2008. 18 19 BACKGROUND 20 This case arises from defendant’s alleged failure to screen and treat plaintiff in November 21 2008 and December 2008 (“Underlying Incident”). Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff claims she suffered 22 personal injury from defendant’s alleged refusal to accept plaintiff as a transfer patient and provide 23 plaintiff medical care. Dkt. No. 1 at 8. Plaintiff further claims she suffered physical, mental, and 24 emotional distress while waiting six weeks for an appointment with defendant. Id. 25 On July 30, 2021, defendant issued three deposition subpoenas to the custodian of records 26 for Sutter Medical Center: (1) “ALL DOCUMENTS, MEDICAL RECORDS, OFFICE RECORDS, 27 EMERGENCY ROOM RECORDS, SIGN-IN SHEETS, MEDICAL TESTS, INPATIENT AND 28 OUTPATIENT CHARTS AND RECORDS, RADIOLOGICAL REPORTS AND TEST Case 3:18-cv-05387-SI Document 78 Filed 09/07/21 Page 2 of 3 1 RESULTS. 2 EXAMINATION OF MAKENZIE PAULY (DOB: 09/25/1998)”; 2) “Any and all x-ray films, 3 MRS’s, CT scans and any other type of film pertaining to the care, treatment or examination 4 pertaining to MAKENZIE PAULY (DOB: 09/25/1998) from the first date to, and including, the 5 present.”; and 3) “All itemized statements of billing charges, invoices, records of adjustments and/or 6 write/offs, payments and credits, explanation of benefits, balance due and insurance records.” Dkt. 7 No. 72 at 4-23. 8 9 ALL OF THE ABOVE PERTAINING TO THE CARE, TREATMENT OR On August 17, 2021, the plaintiff filed a first discovery letter objecting defendant’s subpoenas. Dkt. No. 72. On August 20, 2021, defendant filed a response letter. Dkt. No. 74. 10 United States District Court Northern District of California 11 LEGAL STANDARD 12 Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45, a party may subpoena and command the 13 production of documents. FED. R. CIV. P. 45 (a)(1)(C). A party may obtain discovery relating to 14 any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense and proportional to the 15 needs of the case. FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(1). The Court may quash or modify a subpoena if the 16 subpoena “requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver 17 applies.” FED. R. CIV. P. 45(d)(3)(A) (iii). 18 “[I]n a civil case, state law governs privilege regarding a claim or defense for which state 19 law supplies the rule of decision.” FED. R. E. 501. In California, plaintiffs are “not obligated to 20 sacrifice all privacy to seek redress for a specific (physical,) mental or emotional injury.” In re 21 Lifschutz, 467 P.2d 557, 570 (1970). Plaintiffs “are entitled to retain the confidentiality of all 22 unrelated medical or psychotherapeutic treatment they may have undergone in the past” and 23 “unquestionably waive their physician-patient and psychotherapist-patient privileges as to all 24 information concerning the medical conditions which they have put in issue.” Britt v. Superior 25 Court, 574 P.2d 766, 768-69, 779 (1978). Waiver requires “asserting more than a garden-variety 26 claim of emotional distress.” Turner v. Imperial Stores, 161 F.R.D. 89, 97 (S.D. Cal. 1995). 27 28 2 Case 3:18-cv-05387-SI Document 78 Filed 09/07/21 Page 3 of 3 DISCUSSION 1 2 Plaintiff argues defendant’s subpoenas are privileged and beyond the scope of her claims. 3 Dkt. No. 72 at 2. Defendant argues discovery of all of plaintiff’s physical and mental health records 4 is warranted because plaintiff placed her health at issue in this case. Dkt. No. 74 at 1-2. The Court finds defendant’s subpoenas to be overbroad. The complaint limits plaintiff’s 6 claims to her alleged pain and resulting inability to walk during Underlying Incident in November 7 2008 and December 2008. Dkt. No. 1 at 9-19. See Britt v. Superior Court, 574 P.2d 766, 778-79 8 (1978) (vacating order permitting discovery of plaintiff’s entire medical history and rejecting 9 argument that discovery would determine injury when plaintiff identified particular ailments). 10 Plaintiff did not place her entire mental health history by claiming she suffered severe “mental and 11 United States District Court Northern District of California 5 emotional distress” during the six weeks of waiting for an appointment with defendant. Compare 12 Fitzgerald v. Cassil, 216 F.R.D. 632, 633, 639 (N.D. Cal.2003) (no waiver of privacy of plaintiff’s 13 medical and billing records when plaintiff did not allege “cause of action for intentional or negligent 14 infliction of emotional distress” or “specific psychiatric injury or disorder or unusually severe 15 emotional distress extraordinary in light of the allegations”) with Dornell v. City of San Mateo, 12- 16 cv-6065-CRB (KAW), 2013 WL 5443036 at *4 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 30, 2013) (waiver of privacy when 17 plaintiff alleged “severe emotional distress” resulting in “anxiety, high blood pressure, chest pain, 18 sleeplessness, weight gain, inability to focus and loss of interest in daily life activities and hobbies”). 19 Accordingly, defendant’s subpoenas shall be limited to records that concern plaintiff’s 20 alleged pain and physical injury during November 2008 and December 2008. 21 22 23 24 25 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: September 7, 2021 ______________________________________ SUSAN ILLSTON United States District Judge 26 27 28 3

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