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Pacific Radiation Oncology, LLC v. The Queen's Medical Center

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

January 10, 2017

PACIFIC RADIATION ONCOLOGY, LLC, a Hawai'i Limited Liability Corporation, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE QUEEN'S MEDICAL CENTER, a Hawai'i Non-Profit Corporation, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION OF [693-1] ORDER RULING ON REMAINING ISSUES IN PENDING APPEALS FROM THE MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDERS

          Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendants/Counter Claimants The Queen's Medical Center ("Queen's" or "QMC") and Queen's Development Corporation's (collectively "Defendants") Motion for Reconsideration of [693-1] Order Ruling on Remaining Issues in Pending Appeals from the Magistrate Judge's Orders ("Motion for Reconsideration"), filed on December 7, 2016. [Dkt. no. 702.] On December 21, 2016, Plaintiffs Pacific Radiation Oncology, LLC, a Hawai'i Limited Liability Corporation ("PRO LLC"); PRO Associates, LLC, a Hawai'i Limited Liability Corporation; John Lederer, M.D.; Laeton Pang, M.D.; Eva Bieniek, M.D.; Vincent Brown, M.D.; Paul DeMare, M.D.; and Thanh Huynh, M.D. (all collectively "Plaintiffs") filed their memorandum in opposition; Counterclaim Defendants Drs. Lederer, Pang, Brown, DeMare, and Huynh ("Counterclaim Defendants") filed their memorandum in opposition; and the Patient-Intervenors filed their memorandum in opposition. [Dkt. nos. 704, 705, 706.] On January 4, 2017, Defendants filed one reply to Plaintiffs' memorandum in opposition and the Counterclaim Defendants' memorandum in opposition, and another reply to the Patient-Intervenors' memorandum in opposition. [Dkt. nos. 713, 714.]

         The Court has considered this matter as a non-hearing motion pursuant to Rule LR7.2(e) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawai'i ("Local Rules"). After careful consideration of the motion, supporting and opposing memoranda, and the relevant legal authority, Defendants' Motion for Reconsideration is HEREBY DENIED because, as set forth more fully below, the Hawai'i Supreme Court has ruled the medical information cannot be used or compelled to be produced, Defendants have not shown any reasonable basis to believe that other patients diverted from Queen's exist, and Defendants merely to seek to rehash their objections to this Court's prior ruling.

         DISCUSSION

         The relevant background is set forth in the orders cited in this Court's November 23, 2016 Order Ruling on Remaining Issues in Pending Appeals from the Magistrate Judge's Orders ("11/23/16 Order"). [Dkt. no. 693.[1] The legal standards applicable to a motion for reconsideration are set forth in this Court's January 21, 2015 Order Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration of [Dkt. 431] Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment on the Counterclaim, or in the Alternative, to Sever Defendants' Counterclaim [Dkt No. 175-1] Filed February 25, 2014 ("1/21/15 Reconsideration Order") . [Dkt. no. 485.[2]

         The instant Motion for Reconsideration argues that the 11/23/16 Order is incomplete because the order does not address the following discovery which the magistrate judge ordered the production of in the 12/11/14 Discovery Order:[3] 1) documents regarding the List Patients[4] other than their medical records; and 2) documents regarding patients that were not among the List Patients ("the Non-List Patients"). Defendants also argue that this Court should reconsider the 11/23/16 Order because, according to Defendants, "the mere possibility of re-identification cannot bar discovery of documents that go to the heart of QMC's defenses and counterclaims." [Mem. in Supp. of Motion for Reconsideration at 12-13.]

         First, Defendants' assertion that the Hawai'i Supreme Court's Response Opinion[5] "was limited to the discovery of non-party List Patients' de-identified medical records in litigation, " [id. at 10, ] is not supported by and misstates the Response Opinion. The certified questions - as posed by this Court and as reformulated by the Hawai'i Supreme Court - refer to confidential medical records. Response Opinion, 138 Hawai'i at 15-16, 375 P.3d at 1253-54. In addition, the supreme court stated:

We hold that, pursuant to article I, section 6 of the Hawai'i Constitution, and under the facts of this case, the parties cannot use, or be compelled to produce, confidential patient medical records in litigation where the patient is not a party, where no compelling state interest has been shown.

Id. at 20, 375 P.3d at 1258 (emphasis added).

         However, reading the Response Opinion as a whole, it is clear that the legal principles the supreme court articulated protect patients' medical information, not just their actual medical records. In particular, the supreme court stated:

our express holding in Cohan [v. Ayabel was, "To allow [a party's medical] information to be used outside the litigation, regardless of whether it is de-identified or not, would reach beyond what the Hawai'i Constitution permits in the absence of a showing of a compelling state interest." 132 Hawai'i [408, ] 419, 322 P.3d [948, ] 959 [(2014)]. Extending Cohan to cases in which parties seek to use and produce the medical records of nonparties, we hold that to allow an individual's medical information, even if de-identified, to be used in litigation to which that individual is not a party, would reach beyond what the Hawai'i Constitution permits in the absence of a showing of a compelling state interest. . . .

Id. at 22, 375 P.3d at 1260 (some alterations in Response Opinion) (emphases added). The Hawai'i Supreme Court held that the parties' disputes in the instant case do not present a compelling interest. Id.

         This Court therefore rejects Defendants' argument that the Response Opinion is limited to patient medical records. To the extent that the Motion for Reconsideration argues this Court should only have set aside the portion of the magistrate judge's orders requiring Plaintiffs and - where necessary TCCH - to produce the List Patients' medical records, the Motion for Reconsideration is DENIED.

         The Motion for Reconsideration also argues that the Response Opinion does not prohibit the production of responsive documents that were not specific to any specific patients, including forms, policies and procedures, and communications describing business practices. See Mem. in Supp. of Motion for Reconsideration at 10-11. Defendants may have requested such general documents from Plaintiff and/or TCCH, but this Court does not construe the discovery requests that remained in dispute after the 12/11/14 Discovery Appeals Order ("Remaining Requests") as requesting such documents. See 11/23/16 Order, 2016 WL 6996982, at *2-3 (quoting the ...


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