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Payton v. Southern Fidelity Ins. Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

November 5, 2018

STEVEN PAYTON, ET AL.
v.
SOUTHERN FIDELITY INSURANCE COMPANY

         SECTION “J” (3)

          ORDER

          DANIEL E. KNOWLES, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         On October 10, 2018, the Motion to Quash Subpoena Duces Tecum Pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 45 and 26 [Doc. #12] came on for oral hearing before the undersigned. Present were Jim Mullaly on behalf of plaintiff and Kevin Riche on behalf of defendant. After the oral hearing, the Court took the motion under advisement and ordered plaintiffs to produce the documents for which they claimed privilege to the Court for in camera review no later than five days from the date of that minute entry. The Court further ordered plaintiffs to produce the remaining documents to defendant at that time. It is now November 5, 2018 - 26 days after the oral hearing and dated minute entry - and, despite a telephone call to plaintiffs' counsel, this Court has yet to receive the documents for which plaintiffs allege privilege. This Court waits no longer to rule. Having reviewed the pleadings and the case law, the Court rules as follows.

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs originally filed suit in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana. Plaintiffs allege that on August 20, 2017, a fire broke out in their home while they were out of town in Lafayette, Louisiana, which destroyed all but the free-standing swimming pool. In January 2018, plaintiffs provided defendant with a proof of loss. Defendant refuses to pay the claim.

         Plaintiffs thus sues defendant for, among other things, damages, breach of contract, and bad faith failure to pay a claim. Defendant removed the case to this Court on March 5, 2018, based upon diversity and the amount in controversy pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332 and 1441.

         II. The Parties' Arguments

         A. The Motion to Quash

          Defendant issued a subpoena to plaintiff's psychiatrist that, in essence, seeks “any and all” medical records from Dr. Jonathan Rynning, who plaintiffs identified as having treated Steven Payton at some point in the past.

         Plaintiffs first argue that they have standing to move to quash the subpoena because it seeks their medical records in which they have a personal right and interest.

         Plaintiffs also contend that the subpoena is overbroad because it seeks “any and all” records without specifying the specific records that defendant seeks. Plaintiffs also argue that the subpoena is irrelevant and does not seek information or documents that may be admissible at trial. Plaintiffs query how the medical records of Rynning are relevant to their claim that their house burned.

         Noting that the Supreme Court has recognized a psychotherapist-patient privilege, they lastly argue that the subpoena seeks documents that are protected by the privilege and that they have not waived the privilege.

         B. The Opposition

         Defendant maintains that plaintiffs explicitly listed “mental anguish” as a claim for damages against it. Quoting the subpoena, defendant argues that its subpoena explicitly and specifically outlines the documents that it seeks when it states “any and all documents contained in the medical records in your possession regarding medical and/or mental health evaluation or treatment to Steven C. Payton, DOB 02/03/1969, SSN XXX-XX-9254, including but not limited to, your records, records from other facilities or providers, notes of treatment, progress notes, hospital records, nurses notes, consultant's reports, patient questionnaires, narrative reports, laboratory tests, diagnostic films, diagnostic studies and reports, medication records, discharge summaries, billing information, billing records, and/or billing statements.” Defendant thus maintains that the subpoena is not overly broad. It contends that all of the documents requested are material to plaintiffs' claims and alleged damages. It argues that should the Court find that a temporal limitation is necessary, ten years is the relevant starting point because ...


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