Steward Health Care System LLC et al v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island
ORDER dismissing 128 Appeal of Magistrate Judge Decision to District Court re: 126 Order on Motion to Compel. So Ordered by Chief Judge William E. Smith on 1/10/2017. (Jackson, Ryan)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF RHODE ISLAND
BLUE CROSS & BLUE SHIELD OF
STEWARD HEALTH CARE SYSTEM LLC,
C.A. No. 13-405 S
WILLIAM E. SMITH, Chief Judge.
Judge Lincoln D. Almond’s August 4th, 2016 Memorandum and Order
denying Defendant Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island’s
(“BCBSRI”) motion to compel the production of documents from
Plaintiff Steward Health Care System LLC (“Steward”). (ECF No.
BCBSRI had sought to compel Steward to produce all of the
written communications that Steward withheld on the basis of the
common interest doctrine. (Mot. to Compel Produc. from Pl. 1,
ECF No. 111.)
These written communications (approximately 3,000
Parties”). (Mem. of Law in Supp. of Obj. to Mem. and Order
(“Obj.”) 1-2, ECF No. 128.)
Magistrate Judge Almond concluded
that Steward and the Special Master Parties shared “a common
legal interest in the operation of Landmark and the consummation
of the acquisition during the periods when the [Asset Purchase
Agreements] were in place.” (Mem. and Order 2-3, ECF No. 126.)
Magistrate Judge Almond also concluded that an agreement that
interrelationship and commonality of interest well beyond just
being parties to a pending acquisition.” (Id. at 3.)
BCBSRI contends that Magistrate Judge Almond’s conclusions
were clearly wrong because the common interest doctrine cannot
communications. (Obj. 9, 11, ECF No. 128.)
BCBSRI asserts that,
because Steward has not yet produced any communications that
reasons for Steward’s withdrawal. (Id. at 2.)
The Court is
sympathetic to BCBSRI’s frustration, but its role in this appeal
is circumscribed by 28 U.S.C. § 636.
A district judge may only reconsider a magistrate judge’s
pretrial ruling “where it has been shown that the magistrate
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(a).
Court “must accept both the [magistrate judge’s] findings of
unyielding belief that a mistake has been made.’” Phinney v.
Wentworth Douglas Hosp., 199 F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 1999) (quoting
Cumpiano v. Banco Santander P.R., 902 F.2d 148, 152 (1st Cir.
“The common-interest doctrine . . . is ‘not an independent
basis for privilege, but an exception to the general rule that
information is disclosed to a third party.’” Cavallaro v. United
States, 284 F.3d 236, 250 (1st Cir. 2002) (quoting E.S. Epstein,
The Attorney–Client Privilege and the Work–Product Doctrine 196
(4th ed. 2001)).
“The common-interest doctrine prevents clients
from waiving the attorney-client privilege when attorney-client
communications are shared with a third person who has a common
legal interest with respect to these communications . . . .” Id.
“The common-interest doctrine is typically understood to apply
‘[w]hen two or more clients consult or retain an attorney on
client’s lawyer communicates with another lawyer representing a
different party in a matter of common interest. Id. at 249-50
(quoting 3 Weinstein’s Federal Evidence § 503.21,  (J.M.
McLaughlin, ed., 2d ed. 2002)).
After carefully considering the record in this case, there
is simply no basis for the Court to conclude that Magistrate
Judge Almond clearly erred when he concluded that Steward and
the Special Master Parties shared a common legal interest at the
time that the written communications that BCBSRI seeks to compel
The Court acknowledges the “pivotal role that
magistrate judges play in overseeing the conduct of the sort of
Pharm. Inc. v. Braintree Labs., Inc., 168 F. Supp. 3d 355, 358
(D. Mass. 2016) (quoting Gargiulo v. Baystate Health Inc., 279
F.R.D. 62, 64 (D. Mass. 2012)), so it may not second-guess the
different conclusion could have been drawn. See Harvard Pilgrim
Health Care of New England v. Thompson, 318 F. Supp. 2d 1, 6
Magistrate Judge Almond’s Memorandum and Order denying BCBSRI’s
Motion to Compel the production of documents from Steward. (ECF
IT IS SO ORDERED.
William E. Smith
Date: January 10, 2017
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