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Lorshbaugh v. Community Health Systems, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Knoxville

September 27, 2019

JAMES LORSHBAUGH, Plaintiff,
v.
COMMUNITY HEALTH SYSTEMS, INC., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Debra C. Poplin United States Magistrate Judge

         This case is before the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636, the Rules of this Court, and Standing Order 13-02.

         Now before the Court is a Motion to Modify the Scheduling Order [Doc. 57], filed by Defendant Metro Knoxville HMA, LLC d/b/a Tennova Healthcare-Physicians Regional Medical Center (“Tennova”). The parties have briefed the Motion, and it is ripe for adjudication. Accordingly, for the reasons further explained below, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND DENIES IN PART Tennova’s Motion [Doc. 57].

         I. BACKGROUND

         By way of background, the parties attended a Scheduling Conference with United States Magistrate Judge Lee on May 30, 2019. Relevant to the instant Motion, during the Scheduling Conference, the Court inquired about the parties’ ability and/or attempts to resolve this case. [Doc. 59 at 13]. The Court recommended a facilitated discussion and inquired as to whether the parties would like the Court to order mediation by a certain deadline. [Id. at 16]. The Court noted, however, that if early mediation did not make sense to let the Court know. [Id.]. Counsel for Tennova replied that early mediation “makes sense” but noted that the parties had engaged in settlement discussions and that they had a “vastly different view about the underlying facts in this case.” [Id.]. The Court suggested that the parties have some time for discovery, and counsel for Tennova stated that he was not against mediation. [Id. at 17]. Later, the following exchanged occurred:

[Tennova’s Counsel]: Well, I just think that if there is going to be a mediation, I would rather do the mediation early so as not to waste resources on litigation that would otherwise be used. At the same time, there needs to be some information sharing to make sure that – Court: Absolutely.
[Tennova’s Counsel] – each party appreciates the relative strengths and weaknesses of their position.
Court: Absolutely.
[Tennova’s Counsel]: That’s why I bring up the material difference in our views of the facts of the case.

[Id. at 17-18]. Later, during the hearing, the Court inquired as to how long the parties needed for discovery prior to setting the mediation. [Id. at 33]. Counsel for Tennova stated “sooner than later” and that sixty (60) days “should be enough to determine.” [Id.]. Thus, the Court entered a Scheduling Order directing the parties to mediate this case on or before August 30, 2019.

         Tennova now moves to remove or modify this deadline.

         II. POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES

         Tennova states [Doc. 57] that after conducting discovery, it believes that Plaintiff’s claim is without merit and borders frivolous. Tennova states that due to the frivolous nature of the claim, it intends to file a motion for summary judgment. Further, Tennova states that Plaintiff has made no effort to minimize fees and expenses in this case. For instance, Tennova states that depositions were taken in Knoxville on August 5, 2019, and Tennova tried to schedule a mediation the following day, on August 6, to eliminate delay and travel costs, but Plaintiff refused to consider this request. Tennova states that the parties have engaged in informal settlement discussions and that settlement is exceptionally unlikely. Tennova requests that the Court remove the requirement for mediation or extend the deadline “far into the future.” [Id. at 2].

         Defendants Community Health Systems, Inc., (“CHSI”) and Knoxville HMA Holdings, LLC (“Knoxville HMA Holdings”) filed a Response [Doc. 58], stating that neither entity played a role in the care, treatment, and services allegedly provided by Tennova to Plaintiff. Defendant CHSI states that it has played a cursory role in the informal settlement negotiations and that Knoxville HMA Holdings has not been included in any settlement ...


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