CARBONE v. THE NEW CASTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT et al
MEMORANDUM ORDER denying 131 Motion to Compel Discovery Directed to Defendant April Brightsue. Signed by Chief Magistrate Judge Maureen P. Kelly on 3/9/17. (bb)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
Kimberlee Rae Carbone,
The City of New Castle; The County of
Lawrence; Chief Robert Salem; Officer
David Maiella; Officer Terry Dolquist;
Officer Sheila Panella; Correction Officer
April Brightshue; Correction Officer Niesha
Savage; Commander Mark Keyser;
Attorney Joshua Lamancusa; Jameson
Health Systems; and Bernard Geiser, M.D.,
Civil Action No. 15-1175
Chief Magistrate Judge Maureen P.
Re: ECF No. 131
KELLY, Chief Magistrate Judge
Plaintiff Kimberlee Rae Carbone (“Plaintiff”), filed this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983
against numerous individuals – police officers, corrections officers (including Defendant April
Brightshue), and medical personnel – who were allegedly involved in her arrest and subsequent
strip and cavity searches following a traffic stop on November 3, 2013.
Also named as
Defendants are the City of New Castle and the County of Lawrence.
Presently before the Court Plaintiff’s Motion to Compel Directed to Defendant April
Brightshue, ECF No. 131, wherein Plaintiff seeks an Order compelling Defendant Brightshue to
respond to the following Supplemental Interrogatory and Request for Production:
Please state the name and address of every psychiatrist and/or psychologist
and/or medical doctor and/or counselor and/or therapist and/or hospital that
April Brightshue has consulted and/or seen and/or received treatment and/or
received therapy and/or been hospitalized at and/or admitted to, from the
period from January 1, 2012 to the present and provide any and all records
regarding the same and/or please execute/complete and provide the attached
authorizations to obtain said records.
ECF No. 131 ¶ 9. Plaintiff argues that Defendant Brightshue’s psychiatric records are necessary
to generally assess her credibility and, more specifically, to determine: a) what version of events
Brightshue gave to her treatment providers and whether that version matches the version of the
other Defendants; b) Brightshue’s well-being and capacity to accurately process and/or relay
information; and c) Brightshue’s capacity to handle the stresses of being a corrections officer.
Id. ¶¶ 11-13.
Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1), the scope of discovery is defined as follows:
Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant
to any party’s claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case,
considering the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in
controversy, the parties’ relative access to relevant information, the parties'
resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the
burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.
Information within this scope of discovery need not be admissible in evidence to
Rulings regarding the proper scope of discovery under Rule 26, and the extent to which
discovery may be compelled, are matters consigned to the Court's discretion and judgment.
Wisniewski v. Johns–Manville Corp., 812 F.2d 81, 90 (3d Cir. 1987). This discretion, however,
is guided by certain basic principles. In particular, it is clear that Rule 26's broad definition
reaches only “nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense.” Valid claims
of relevance and privilege therefore restrict the Court's discretion in ruling on discovery issues.
Further, the party moving to compel discovery bears the initial burden of proving the relevance
of the requested information. Morrison v. Philadelphia Housing Auth., 203 F.R.D. 195, 196
(E.D. Pa. 2001).
In the instant case, the Court finds not only that Defendant Brightshue’s
psychotherapeutic records are privileged but that Plaintiff has not met her burden of establishing
their relevance. Indeed, the United States Supreme Court has specifically held that confidential
communications between licensed psychotherapist and psychologists and their patients during
the course of treatment are privileged and protected from disclosure under Federal Rule of
Evidence 501. Jaffe v. Redmond, 518 U.S. 1 (1996).
In addition, Plaintiff’s assertions of relevance largely revolve around her need to assess
Brightshue’s credibility. Plaintiff’s arguments, however, are based on deposition testimony
made by witnesses and/or other Defendants regarding matters unrelated to Brightshue or the strip
search she conducted. ECF No. 131 ¶ 8. For instance, it escapes the Court what relevance
Brightshue’s psychotherapeutic records have to the fact that Officer Dolquist testified that Field
Sobriety Tests were performed on Plaintiff before she was transported to the Lawrence County
Jail when no such tests were performed.
Moreover, Plaintiff had the opportunity to test
Brightshue’s credibility and her recollection of events during her deposition and, should the case
proceed to trial, will, perhaps, have the opportunity to do so again.
Accordingly, the following Order is entered:
AND NOW, this 9th day of March, 2017, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiff’s
Motion to Compel Directed to Defendant April Brightshue, ECF No. 131, is DENIED.
BY THE COURT:
/s/ Maureen P. Kelly
MAUREEN P. KELLY
CHIEF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
cc: All counsel of record via CM/ECF
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