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Miller v. Huron Regional Medical Center, Inc.

United States District Court, Eighth Circuit

December 20, 2013

LINDA A. MILLER, M.D., Plaintiff,
v.
HURON REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, INC.; CY B. HAATVEDT, M.D., as a Member of its Executive Committee and Individually; and MICHAEL N. BECKER, M.D., as a Member of its Executive Committee and Individually, Defendants.

ORDER RE MOTION TO RECONSIDER (DOC. 67) AND RESOLVING DISCOVERY DISPUTES

JOHN SIMKO, Magistrate Judge.

Pending is the motion by Huron Regional Medical Center (HRMC) to reconsider the Report to Supplement Doc. 59.[1] An Order For Telephonic Hearing To Resolve Discovery Dispute was filed as a result of HRMC's Motion To Reconsider.[2] A telephonic hearing was held on December 17, 2013. Plaintiff Miller was represented by counsel Bradley Gordon and Kenneth Barker. Defendant HRMC was represented by counsel Jon Sogn. ProAssurance, the liability insurance carrier for HRMC was represented by counsel Mary Schott. Defendants Haatvedt and Becker were represented by counsel Jeffrey Bratkiewicz.

BACKGROUND

The centerpiece for this lengthy discovery dispute about which three court opinions have already been filed is a written medical report evaluating Miller's care of patient J. ____. On December 3, 2013, this court first became aware there is no such written report. The purpose for the hearing on December 17, 2013 was to resolve all disputes about outstanding discovery.

After two court decisions were filed about this dispute, [3] ProAssurance itself first appeared and argued it is the possessor of the disputed documents and it is a third party not involved in the litigation between Miller and HRMC et al, so that it must be afforded its own opportunity to resist Miller's subpoena. ProAssurance is the liability insurer for HRMC. ProAssurance moved to intervene (Doc. 51) so that it could resist Miller's subpoena. Miller did not respond or resist ProAssurance's Motion to Intervene. ProAssurance's Motion to Intervene prompted this court's Order (Doc. 59) denying ProAssurance's motion as moot because the same Order (Doc. 59) quashed Miller's subpoena as abandoned. In essence this court Ordered that the defense could not use Miller's care for patient J. ____ as evidence at the trial if it did not provide the disputed written report to Miller. Miller has now objected to the Order quashing its subpoena.

HRMC first argued to this court it could not produce the written medical report because the written report was not in its possession. Now, in order to support its objection to the district court, HRMC argues it cannot be ordered to produce the written report because the written report doesn't exist.

Various objections to this court's Orders about this discovery dispute are currently pending before the district court (Documents 63, 64, and 73). This opinion is intended to declare a false start and to re-start the race with everyone in their respective lanes at the starting line.

DISCUSSION AND DECISION

Miller argues she is entitled to discover from the claims file of ProAssurance:

1. All correspondence from HRMC to ProAssurance.
2. All correspondence from ProAssurance to HRMC.
3. All correspondence and related documents between Pro Assurance and the unidentified medical doctor who reviewed patient J. ____'s medical records to evaluate Miller's care in order to express an opinion about Miller's compliance with the standard of care.

Miller argues these documents should specifically include the evaluating doctor's time line notes and ProAssurance's telephone records or claims representative notes of telephone conversations with the external reviewing doctor.

HRMC, et al. argues the typewritten notes of ProAssurance's claims representative are not discoverable because the results of the external review are not at issue because Miller voluntarily agreed to reduce her privileges during the review before the review was completed. Miller argues she was "forced" (had no other reasonable option?) to reduce her privileges when she did. HRMC intends to offer evidence at trial "that HRMC requested that ProAssurance arrange for an independent external review of the medical records, the medical records were provided by HRMC to ProAssurance for that review, and the external review was pending when Dr. Miller voluntarily reduced her hospital privileges and when certain privileges were restored with restrictions.... Three reports, ...


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