United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
Reona J. Daly, United States Magistrate Judge
matter is before the Court on the Motions to Quash
Defendants' Subpoena (Docs. 50 and 61) filed by Plaintiff
and Interested Parties MFG Spine, LLC, MRI Partners of
Chesterfield, Pain & Rehabilitation Specialists of St.
Louis, St. Louis Spine & Orthopedic Surgery Center, the
Orthopedic Center of St. Louis, CT Partners of Chesterfield,
and West County Care Center(collectively “the Gornet
entites”). Defendants filed timely responses to both
case arises from a motor vehicle accident, in which Plaintiff
claims that he sustained severe injury to his cervical spine.
The subpoenas at issue were sent to each of the Interested
Parties listed above which provided treatment to Plaintiff
and require each entity to produce medical and billing
records. Specifically at issue is Item #6 of each subpoena
which calls for the production of the following documents:
“The amount of payments [Subpoenaed Entity] received
from Stephen Shultz and/or his law firm Schultz &
Myers's trust account or the firm's account in
payment of a patient's medical services; and all W9s in
support, for the past 5 years.”
and the Interested Parties argue Item #6 should be quashed
because the information sought is irrelevant and overbroad.
They assert payments received with respect to medical
services for unrelated patients have nothing to do with the
issues of this case and would invite meaningless detours into
collateral issues. The Interested Parties further argue that
even in the context of retained experts, discovery must be
limited to the percentage of the expert's gross income
derived from forensic medicine and that actual dollar amounts
are out of bounds.
argue the information sought by the subpoenas to the Dr.
Gornet entities is relevant to Dr. Gornet's bias, which
is relevant to the Plaintiff's claim for damages.
Defendants believe there is significant evidence of an
ongoing financial relationship between Dr. Gornet and the law
firm Schultz & Myers. Defendants assert that prior to any
type of treatment and as part of Dr. Gornet's intake
process for patients with personal injury claims, the patient
is required to sign a “Notice of Doctor's
Lien” which authorizes his attorney to pay directly to
Dr. Gornet all monies owed from any settlement or judgment.
Defendants allege that this arrangement created a pecuniary
interest for Dr. Gornet in the outcome of the personal injury
case because if there is no settlement or judgment in the
patient's favor then his only recourse is to collect from
the patient directly. Defendants assert that collecting
directly from Plaintiff in this case would be a daunting
prospect for Dr. Gornet because his entities have billed over
$250, 000 for medical treatment. Defendants further assert
their request is narrowly tailored to the specific issue of
the referral relationship because it only asks for
documentation of payments related to patients that are
represented by Shultz & Myers in the past five years.
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “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.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(1).
“The Court may exclude relevant evidence if its
probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of
one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the
issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or
needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 403. The Seventh Circuit has recognized a trial
court's “broad discretion over discovery
matters.” Spiegla v. Hull, 371 F.3d 928, 944
(7th Cir. 2004).
Court finds that the request in Item #6 of each subpoena is
overly broad and not proportional to the needs of the case.
While Dr. Gornet is a treating physician rather than an
expert in this case, the federal case law on assessing bias
of medical experts in instructive. In the case of experts,
disclosing the proportion of income that is derived from
litigation activities is sufficient to examine bias.
Defendants have failed to show why a more intrusive
disclosure is necessary to prove bias of a treating
physician. Producing payments related to patients that are
not parties to this case confuses the issues and the burden
of the production outweighs any probative value relevant to
bias. The Motions to Quash Item #6 are
also filed an objection to Item #10 which requests
information concerning ownership of each subpoenaed entity.
Plaintiff's objection is based on relevance. The
Interested Parties did not object to this portion of the
subpoena. Plaintiff has no privilege or legitimate interest
in the information requested by Item #10; therefore,
Plaintiff's objection to Item #10 is
IS SO ORDERED.
 Dr. Gornet has testified that he has
no ownership interest in West County Care Center. He is the
sole owner of MFG Spine, LLC, and a partial owner of the