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Brown v. Sun Healthcare Group Inc.

October 9, 2007

BARBARA BROWN, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS SURVIVING WIFE OF HAROLD EUGENE BROWN PLAINTIFF,
v.
SUN HEALTHCARE GROUP INC, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: H. Bruce Guyton United States Magistrate Judge

(VARLAN/GUYTON)

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This case came before the Court on September 24, 2007, for a Discovery Conference to resolve a discovery dispute between the parties. Participating by telephone on behalf of Plaintiff Barbara Brown ("Brown") was attorney Stephen Hornbuckle. Participating on behalf of Defendants Sun Healthcare Group Inc., ("Sun Healthcare"), Sunbridge Healthcare Corp., and Maplewood Health Care Center of Jackson was attorney Harry Ogden. This is a civil action brought by Plaintiff Brown for breach of contract and medical malpractice against Defendants. Plaintiff's decedent Harold Brown (" Mr. Brown"), was admitted to the Marshall C. Voss Rehabilitation Center ("Voss"), a licensed nursing home, in September 2002 and resided there until August 2005. [Doc. 1 at ¶ 25]. While staying at Voss, Mr. Brown developed severe decubitus ulcers and suffered from dehydration and malnutrition, allegedly because of failure on the part of the staff of Voss to properly care for Mr. Brown. [Id. at ¶¶ 26-28].

Plaintiff has requested the following documents from Defendants: employment files of individuals who cared for Mr. Brown; incident reports of Mr. Brown that relate to his care; financial records of Defendants relevant to the claims for piercing the corporate veil in this matter; advertisements published by Defendants; census records for the Voss facility; charts outlining the corporate structure; and disciplinary records relating to neglect in general and Mr. Brown in particular. Plaintiff also seeks to compel answers to interrogatories regarding the proper parties in this case; names, identifying information, address, and telephone numbers for the employees of the Defendants who cared for Mr. Brown; other lawsuits involving Defendants; the names of persons on the governing body of the nursing home; and other items of unanswered discovery.

Rule 26(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that parties in a civil action "may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party...." Evidence need not be admissible at trial in order to be discoverable. Id.

Based on the arguments of counsel at the September 24, 2007 hearing, and the entire record in this case, Plaintiff's Discovery Requests will be granted in part, denied in part as follows:

I. Plaintiff's Requests for Production

A. Request No. 9 and Request No. 19

In request no. 9, Plaintiff seeks incident reports and all documents pertaining to all investigations by Defendants concerning the incident in question. In request no. 19, Plaintiff seeks copies of all incident reports prepared by any employee of Defendants concerning Harold Brown.Defendants object to producing this information, citing privilege under various Tennessee statutes, and further argues that the request is vague, ambiguous, and subject to multiple interpretations, and assumes that there was an "occurrence in question." At the hearing, the parties agreed these two requests are related.

The Defendants, at the hearing, requested leave to brief the legal bases for their objections to these requests. The Court finds that request to be well taken, and accordingly, all parties are given leave to file a brief on these requests on or before October 26, 2007.

B. Request No. 11 and Request No. 12

Request no. 11 seeks a copy of each Defendants' Articles of Incorporation and any amendments thereto.Plaintiff seeks a copy of each Defendants' Bylaws, Amendments, and revisions thereto in request no. 12. The Plaintiff says she needs the documents on her claim to piece the corporate veil and hold all Defendants liable. Defendants agree to produce Charters, but object to providing other information on the basis of relevance. The Court finds that the requested documents in these two requests may be relevant to a claim in the case, and therefore, the Defendants' objections are overruled, and the documents shall be produced.

D. Request No. 15 and Request No. 16

In request no. 15, Plaintiff seeks files of all personnel employed by Defendants and those involved in the care and treatment of Mr. Brown while he was a patient at Voss. Request no. 16 seeks a copy of all payroll records of all employees at the Voss Center. Defendants object to producing this information, citing privacy concerns, and further arguing that the request is overly broad, unduly burdensome, and not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. At the hearing, the parties agreed these two requests are related.The Court finds that the Defendants must produce the payroll records and files of those persons who were involved in the actual care and treatment of ...


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