Butler v. Rigby

1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4618 (E.D. La. 1998)

Yeazell, pp. 39-41


Facts: American Medical Group and Midtown Health Care treated some plaintiffs in a personal injury case.  The defendant in the case is trying to use discovery to get some information from them.  AMG and MHC objected to some of the requests as violation privilege and being too burdensome.  The magistrate said that most of the discovery was okay.  AMG and MHC objected.


Issue: Is the information at issue discoverable?


Rule: Discovery includes not only information admissible at trial, but also inadmissible information that could lead to other information that would be admissible at trial.  Discovery can be flexibly limited by considerations of both efficiency and fairness at the discretion of the trial judge.


Analysis: The court makes different findings on two different pieces of information sought by the defendants.


The list of the number of patients referred to AMG and MHC by certain lawyers was ruled discoverable by the magistrate, and the judge here finds that’s okay, except the defendants have to help pay for it because it may be expensive and time-consuming.


On the other hand, a printout of AMG and MHC’s complete patient list is overruled as off-limits by this judge.  Louisiana law says that physican-patient records are broadly privileged, and the Federal Rules of Evidence say that federal courts have to follow the state’s privilege rules.  The court also says that the names of AMG and MHC’s patients are irrelevant to the litigation.  The court overrules the magistrate’s finding that this stuff is discoverable.


Conclusion: The defendants must pay half the costs of making a list of clients referred to AMG and MHC by the lawyers, and they may not get the list of all of AMG and MHC’s current patients.


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