Metzger et al v. Harborview Medical Center et al

Filing 27

ORDER regarding Defendant Harborview's 15 Motion for Protective Order, signed by Judge Robert S. Lasnik. (SWT)

Download PDF
1 THE HONORABLE ROBERT S. LASNIK 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 7 8 RAINER METZGER, et al., No. C17-1391RSL 9 Plaintiffs, 10 11 ORDER REGARDING HARBORVIEW’S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER v. HARBORVIEW MEDICAL CENTER, et al., 12 Defendants. 13 14 15 16 This matter comes before the Court on “Harborview Medical Center’s Motion for Protective Order.” Dkt. # 15. 1 When providing mental health services, Harborview 17 is required to keep patient records, including the fact of admission and all information 18 and records compiled in the course of providing mental health services, confidential. 19 RCW 70.02.230(1). The information may, however, be disclosed “[p]ursuant to lawful 20 order of a court.” RCW 70.02.230(2)(o). Harborview seeks a blanket protective order 21 that would effectively excuse it from responding to any allegations of the complaint 22 1 23 This matter can be decided on the papers submitted. Harborview’s request for oral argument is DENIED. ORDER REGARDING HARBORVIEW’S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER 1 and/or discovery requests that would reveal information regarding a non-party, M.D. 2 M.D. is alleged to have sexually assaulted plaintiff’s ward while they were both 3 4 patients in Harborview’s psychiatric unit. Harborview’s request is unwarranted in the circumstances presented here. The 5 alleged perpetrator has been charged with Indecent Liberties in state court: his full 6 name, date of birth, mental health condition, and relevant symptoms are part of the 7 8 9 public record in the criminal case. Plaintiffs have and are entitled to use this information. 2 Additional information will be needed as plaintiffs pursue the claims 10 asserted in this litigation, however. Key issues will be what Harborview knew about 11 M.D.’s propensity for sexual aggression and what environmental, therapeutic, and 12 medical efforts Harborview took to restrain him and/or to protect those around him. 13 Although steps will be taken to protect M.D.’s confidential mental health information, 3 14 the Court finds that his interests can be adequately protected without imposing the 15 16 discovery bar Harborview seeks. (1) Harborview shall, within fourteen days of the date of this Order, file under 17 seal an amended answer that fully responds to the allegations of plaintiffs’ complaint. 18 19 20 2 In one of the cases on which Harborview relies, the court found that the Illinois version of RCW 70.02.230 “will not apply if Jane Doe’s name, address or telephone number are discovered through inadvertence or from some source other than her hospital records.” Giangiulio v. Ingals Memorial Hosp., 850 N.E.2d 249, 263 (Ill. App. 2006). 21 22 23 3 Harborview argues that subsection (2)(o), which authorizes disclosures pursuant to a lawful court order, applies only if the Court is ordering a disclosure that is already permitted under the statute. This extraordinary position is not supported by the structure of RCW 70.02.230, case law, or policy considerations. ORDER REGARDING HARBORVIEW’S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER 1 A redacted version of the answer shall be filed for public viewing. Information that is 2 already part of the record in this or the related criminal proceeding should not be 3 4 redacted. Both parties shall refer to M.D. and K.F. by their initials in future filings. 5 Without prejudice to future discovery motions related to relevance, undue 6 burden, privileges, etc., Harborview shall respond to discovery requests related to 7 8 9 M.D. and his care. Records related to or disclosing patients other than M.D. and K.F. shall be redacted of all identifying information. 10 Plaintiffs shall maintain any and all non-public information produced by 11 Harborview regarding M.D. in a secure location and in strict confidence. The records 12 and the information regarding M.D. shall be used solely for purposes of this litigation. 13 All future filings that refer to non-public information regarding M.D. shall be filed 14 under seal, with a redacted version filed for public viewing. 15 16 This order is entered by the authority granted in RCW 70.02.230(2)(o) and 17 authorizes Harborview’s disclosure of the mental health records discussed herein. 18 19 20 Dated this 7th day of November, 2017. 21 A Robert S. Lasnik 22 United States District Judge 23 ORDER REGARDING HARBORVIEW’S MOTION FOR PROTECTIVE ORDER

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?