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Quimbey v. Community Health Systems Professional Services Corp.

United States District Court, D. New Mexico

November 22, 2017

GLORIA QUIMBEY, DECEASED, BY THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR THE WRONGFUL DEATH ESTATE, JOHN FAURE, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEMS PROFESSIONAL SERVICES CORPORATION, LAS CRUCES MEDICAL CENTER, LLC D/B/A MOUNTAIN VIEW REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, and ACCOUNTABLE HEALTHCARE STAFFING, INC., ACCOUNTABLE HEALTHCARE HOLDINGS CORPORATION, MEDASSETS WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS, RONALD LALONDE, and AFFILION, LLC AND DR. JOEL MICHAEL JONES, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER REGARDING PLAINTIFF'S REQUESTS FOR PRODUCTION NOS. 17 AND 19

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on the following motions: Plaintiff's Motion for Leave to File Motion for Enforcement of Court Order (Doc. 429) (“Motion for Leave”), Plaintiff's Motion for Enforcement of Order Regarding Plaintiff's Request for Production Nos. 17 and 19 to Defendant Mountain View Regional Medical Center (Doc. 429, Ex. 1) (“Motion for Enforcement of Court Order”), and Defendant Mountainview Regional Medical Center's 2nd Supplemental Motion for Protective Order and Response to Plaintiff's Motion for Enforcement of Order Regarding Plaintiff's Request for Production Nos. 17 and 19 (Doc. 442) (“Defendant Hospital's Second Motion for Protective Order”).

         Plaintiff first seeks leave to file the Motion for Enforcement of Court Order, which she attached as Exhibit 1 to her Motion for Leave. Defendant Hospital does not oppose this request and has, instead, addressed the substance of Plaintiff's Motion for Enforcement of Court Order. Plaintiff followed suit in her reply brief, further addressing the substance of her Motion for Enforcement of Court Order and responding to Defendant Hospital's Second Motion for Protective Order. Given the lack of opposition, the Court will grant Plaintiff's Motion for Leave. See D.N.M.LR-CR. 7.1(b) (failure to respond in opposition constitutes consent to grant motion). Moreover, because the Court is satisfied that it has adequate briefing on Plaintiff's Motion for Enforcement of Court Order, it will proceed to the merits of that motion, rather than require the parties to refile it along with responsive briefs.

         The Court has reviewed the parties' submissions and the relevant law and has also undertaken an in camera review of the documents submitted by Defendant Las Cruces Medical Center, LLC (“Defendant Hospital”), which it contends are protected by the New Mexico Review Organization Immunity Act (“ROIA”), N.M. Stat. Ann. § 41-9-1 to 41-9-7 (1978), and the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act (“PSQIA”), 42 U.S.C. § § 299b-21 to 26, and Texas Occupations Code § 301.466(a)(2). The Court finds that Plaintiff's Motion for Enforcement of Court Order is well-taken in part. Likewise, Defendant Hospital's Second Motion for Protective Order is well-taken in part.

         I. Background

         Following a hearing on March 3, 2017, the Court ordered Defendant Hospital to search for and to produce to Plaintiff the following documents:

i. Documents constituting the budget that was in effect at the time of the subject hospitalization of Gloria Quimbey.
ii. Any electronic correspondence to or from Willa Dixon, Kelly Clark, Denten Park, and Karen Anderson containing the search terms “Quimbey” or “Lalonde, ” regardless of date.
iii. Any electronic correspondence to or from Willa Dixon, Kelly Clark, Denten Park, and Karen Anderson during the calendar year 2012, which contain the following combination of search terms:
1. “patient” “ratio” “telemetry”
2. “short” “staff” “telemetry”
3. “short” “staff” “emergency/ED/ER”
4. “traveler” “emergency/ED/ER.”

Doc. 351 at 3. After receiving two extensions, Defendant Hospital produced documents responsive to this Order but withheld others subject to the assertion of certain privileges and protections. Docs. 374, 401, 405. On May 19, 2017, Defendant Hospital provided a privilege log for documents it withheld. See Doc. 429, Ex. 1. Then, on September 13, 2017, concurrent with the filing of its response to the subject motion, Defendant Hospital provided its “1st Amended Privilege Log.” Doc. 442, Ex. A. Defendant Hospital also provided the Court with the documents identified in that amended privilege log for in camera review.

         II. Legal Standard

         As the Court has previously discussed, both the New Mexico Review Organization Immunity Act (ROIA) and the Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act of 2005 (PSQIA) provide protections against the disclosure of medical peer-review documents and information. See Doc. 241 at 2. The pertinent portion of New Mexico's ROIA statute provides:

All data and information acquired by a review organization in the exercise of its duties and functions shall be held in confidence and shall not be disclosed to anyone except to the extent necessary to carry out one or more of the purposes of the review organization or in a judicial appeal from the action of a review organization. . . . Information, documents or records otherwise available from original sources shall not be immune from discovery or use in any civil action merely because they were presented during proceedings of a review organization, nor shall any person who testified before a review organization or who is a member of a review organization be prevented from testifying as to matters within his knowledge, but a witness cannot be asked about opinions formed by him as a result of the review organizations hearings.

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 41-9-5 (1978). The statute defines a “review organization” as an organization whose “membership is limited to health care providers and staff” and whose purpose is to “gather and review information relating to the care and treatment of patients for the purposes of”:

(1) Evaluating and improving the quality of health care services rendered in the area or by a health care provider;
(2) Reducing morbidity or mortality;
(3) Obtaining and disseminating statistics and information relative to the treatment and prevention of diseases, ...

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