Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Judge Nealon of Lackawanna County Orders a Plaintiff To Produce Various Items of Discovery in a Medical Malpractice Action

In the case of Healey v. Scranton Hospital Company, LLC, No. 23-CV-1793 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Jan. 12, 2024 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas granted a medical malpractice Defendant’s Moton to Compel a Plaintiff to provide various items in discovery.

According to the Opinion, this matter involved a medical malpractice action against a hospitalist, his employer, and a local hospital and involved allegations of the improper administration of opioid medication in the emergency room to the Plaintiff which allegedly caused the Plaintiff to suffer hypoxemic respiratory failure and cardiac arrest allegedly due to the Plaintiff’s documented history of obstructive sleep apnea.

With the Motion to Compel filed by the Defendants, the Defendants asserted that they had served discovery on the Plaintiffs seeking information and documents concerning potential witnesses and regarding Plaintiff’s past medical expenses, work history, medical treatment, health and disability insurance, income tax filings, Social Security Disability documents, documentation and information regarding Plaintiff’s past and future wage loss claims, and with respect to projected future medical expenses.

The Plaintiff responded to these inquiries by stating “to be supplied” or that the requested information and documentation would be provided “at the completion of discovery.” Certain Defendants filed a Motion to Compel more timely and complete responses from the Plaintiff.

Judge Nealon granted this motion noting that, during pre-trial discovery, litigants are obligated to provide to their adversaries relevant information and documentation that currently exist or are readily available. As such, the court ordered the Plaintiff to produce certain items of discovery at issue.

Judge Terrence R. Nealon
Lackawanna County 

However, Judge Nealon also noted that that evidence which requires expert review and formulation need not be produced until later in the discovery process and as required by Pa. R.C.P. 4003.5. Accordingly, the court ruled that, since the Plaintiff’s past loss of income, future loss of earning potential, and the projected medical expenses required expert analysis and calculations in medical malpractice actions, the Plaintiff was allowed to “seasonably provide” that information when he produced his expert witness reports in accordance with the court’s scheduling deadlines.

On a related discovery issue relative to the Defendants’ efforts to secure the Plaintiff’s Social Security Disability documentation, it was noted that an additional authorization was required from the Plaintiff to produce that information. Although the Plaintiff had previously responded in written discovery responses that he would sign the necessary authorization and that he had no objections to the Defendants securing this information, the Plaintiff refused to produce the executed authorization.

The court ordered the Plaintiff to produce an executed authorization to secure the Social Security Disability records given that the Plaintiff had previously indicated that this would be done and given that the Defendants were not seeking to obtain information privately from the Plaintiff’s treating physicians in violation of Pa. R.C.P. 4003.6.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

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