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Doe v. ST. Vincent Medical Group, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

November 18, 2019

JANE DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
ST. VINCENT MEDICAL GROUP, INC., ST. VINCENT CARMEL HOSPITAL, INC., and HANNAH THORNTON, R.N., N.P., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          SARA L. ELLIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendants St. Vincent Medical Group, Inc., (“SVMG”), St. Vincent Carmel Hospital, Inc. (the “Hospital”), and Hannah Thornton, R.N., N.P. filed this action for an authorizing order to issue subpoenas to the Positive Sobriety Institute, LLC (“PSI”). The Court previously denied Defendants application [20]. Defendants now move for reconsideration of that Opinion and Order with respect to the deposition of one or more treatment providers at PSI regarding Plaintiff Dr. Jane Doe's diagnosis. Because the Court finds that Doe's diagnosis is at issue and good cause exists, the Court grants Defendants' motion to reconsider and authorizes the production of Doe's treatment records at PSI for attorney's eyes only. Additionally, because the Court finds that Defendants gave Doe and PSI adequate notice and good cause exists, the Court authorizes the deposition of Dr. Anish John, M.D., limited solely to Doe's diagnosis. But because Defendants have not shown that good cause for the deposition of unknown doctors whom Defendants may discover are relevant upon review of Doe's treatment records, the Court does not authorize Defendants to take these unknown doctors' depositions.

         BACKGROUND

         Doe is an OB/GYN physician practicing at SVMG in Indianapolis, Indiana. She has staff privileges at the Hospital in Carmel, Indiana. Doe sued these entities, along with Thornton, an employee of the Hospital, in Indiana Commercial Court in Marion County. She is pursuing claims of fraud, constructive fraud, negligent misrepresentation, tortious interference with employment relationship, defamation, and conspiracy. This matter is currently pending under Indiana cause number 49D01-1807-PL-026160 (the “Indiana Lawsuit”).

         In the Indiana Lawsuit, Doe alleges that in December 2017, Thornton falsely accused her of having an odor of alcohol on her breath while she was at work. Although no one from the Hospital timely tested Doe's blood alcohol level, Thornton's employer, the Hospital, questioned Doe about the incident and referred the matter to Doe's employer, SVMG. SVMG placed Doe on administrative leave and did not allow her to return to work until she sought an evaluation for alcohol abuse through the Indiana State Medical Association (“ISMA”).

         ISMA referred Doe to PSI in Chicago. PSI diagnosed Doe with alcohol use disorder and subsequently treated her for it. After completing PSI's treatment program in March 2018, Doe returned to work, subject to a five-year monitoring contract with ISMA. Doe disagrees with PSI's diagnosis and has disclosed an expert witness who opines, in part, that PSI's diagnosis is incorrect; however, for the purposes of the Indiana Lawsuit, Doe argues that she need not prove that PSI erred in its diagnosis to prevail on her claims.

         Defendants and Doe have been engaged in this discovery dispute regarding the production of Doe's records at PSI for the better part of a year. Initially, Defendants requested that Doe sign a written authorization that would have permitted Defendants' counsel to directly request and obtain Doe's evaluation and treatment records from PSI. Doe did not sign the authorization; instead, she obtained the records herself from PSI and then produced them to Defendants. She produced these documents under a protective order designating all documents related to her counseling and treatment records as attorney's eyes only. See Doc. 1-3.

         After the Court's denial of Defendants' motion to issue an authorizing order, the parties learned that PSI had not produced Doe's entire file. The Court reversed its ruling and granted Defendant's motion to reconsider in part, granting Defendants' original application to allow them to subpoena PSI for all treatment records. However, the parties now dispute whether that application includes permission for Defendants to depose PSI treatment providers.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Motions for reconsideration serve a limited purpose and are “only appropriate where the court has misunderstood a party, where a court has made a decision outside the adversarial issues presented to the court by the parties, where the court has made an error of apprehension (not of reasoning), where a significant change in the law has occurred, or where significant new facts have been discovered.” Broaddus v. Shields, 665 F.3d 846, 860 (7th Cir. 2011) (citing Bank of Waunakee v. Rochester Cheese Sales, Inc., 906 F.2d 1185, 1191 (7th Cir. 1990)), overruled on other grounds, Hill v. Tangherlini, 724 F.3d 965 (7th Cir. 2013). A motion for reconsideration “is not appropriately used to advance arguments or theories that could and should have been made before the district court rendered a judgment.” County of McHenry v. Ins. Co. of the W., 438 F.3d 813, 819 (7th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Matter of Reese, 91 F.3d 37, 39 (7th Cir. 1996) (a Rule 59(e) motion does not “enable a party to complete presenting his case after the court has ruled against him” (quoting Frietsch v. Refco, Inc., 56 F.3d 825, 828 (7th Cir. 1995))).

         ANALYSIS

         Doe makes three arguments against permitting Defendants to depose PSI treatment providers: (1) that Defendants did not request depositions in their original application and therefore failed to provide both Doe and PSI adequate notice of an application for depositions; (2) that PSI's diagnosis is not at issue in the case; and (3) that Defendants do not have good cause to seek the depositions. In response, Defendants argue: (1) that the term “records” includes deposition testimony and that Doe has been aware of Defendants' intent to depose PSI treatment providers for a significant amount of time; (2) that Doe has placed PSI's diagnosis at issue; and (3) that the Court, in granting Defendants' initial application, has already found that PSI's diagnosis is at issue and that Defendants have shown good cause.

         I. Disclosure of Treatment Records

         The Court first addresses the second and third points of contention, whether PSI's diagnosis is at issue and whether Defendants have shown good cause. Two regulations, 42 C.F.R. §§ 2.63 and 2.64, control the process of disclosing these confidential records without the patient's ...


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