Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Pritchard v. Merakey Pennsylvania

United States District Court, W.D. Louisiana, Shreveport Division

August 15, 2019

STEPHANIE PRITCHARD
v.
MERAKEY PENNSYLVANIA

          FOOTE JUDGE

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

          MARK L. HORNSBY U.S. MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Stephanie Pritchard (“Plaintiff”) filed this employment discrimination action against her former employer, Merakey Pennsylvania (“Defendant”), a mental health services provider. Plaintiff alleges that a Merakey patient, referred to in the litigation as A.B., sexually harassed and assaulted her multiple times. She claims that she complained to Merakey officials about A.B.'s actions and was later fired from her job.

         Before the court is Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery (Doc. 22), which seeks an order from this court to compel Merakey to produce information in response to Plaintiff's discovery requests. For the reasons that follow, the motion is granted in part and denied in part.

         Interrogatory 11 and RFPs 7, 9, 12, 13, and 14

         The requests include: (1) A.B.'s chart and diagnoses, specifically whether he has been diagnosed with or noted for any sexual behavior dysfunctions; (2) all complaints of sexual harassment by patients, particularly A.B.; and (3) all records and evidence developed as part of Defendant's investigation into and reporting incidents of A.B.'s sexual harassment of Plaintiff. Plaintiff argues that, given the nature of her claims, the requested discovery will be significant in establishing her case. Plaintiff cites Gardner v. CLC of Pascagoula, LLC, 915 F.3d 320 (5th Cir. 2019), where a plaintiff sued a nursing home for hostile work environment due to a resident's suggestive and sexually aggressive behavior. The trial court in Gardner ruled that a resident's chart was relevant and discoverable and that redacting the resident's identifying information would adequately protect his privacy rights. Plaintiff also points out that any information disclosed by Defendant would be subject to the Stipulated Confidentiality Agreement and Protective Order (Doc. 21).

         Defendant argues that the request for A.B.'s chart and diagnosis falls within the psychotherapist-patient privilege set forth in Jaffe v. Redmond, 518 U.S. 1 (1996). Defendant claims that because A.B. is not a party to the suit, his information is subject to even more protection. Defendant cites Flowers v. Camellia Grill, 2003 WL 21999349 (E.D. La. 2003), in which a plaintiff sued her employer after she was sexually harassed by a manager. The plaintiff requested the non-party manager's psychiatric counseling records, but the trial court denied the request, finding that the records were within Jaffe's psychotherapist privilege. Alternatively, Defendant argues that the information is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”).

         Defendant argues that the Gardner case is not applicable here because the plaintiff in Gardner alleged hostile work environment. Defendant claims that A.B.'s actions are not at issue to determine whether he engaged in any type of harassment that led to a hostile work environment, and the only issue is whether Plaintiff was wrongfully terminated.

         Contrary to Defendant's claims, Plaintiff's complaint included allegations that A.B. harassed her and that Defendant was aware of the “persistent sexual harassment.” Doc. 11, ¶ 33. Defendant has denied these allegations. Doc. 12, ¶ 33. Therefore, whether Plaintiff was harassed and subjected to a hostile work environment is at issue. Huri v. Office of the Chief Judge, 804 F.3d 826, 831 (7th Cir. 2015)(plaintiff need not use the words “hostile work environment” when plaintiff alleged continued harassment despite the complaints she made).

         In her reply, Plaintiff argues that evidence of A.B.'s history of sexual harassment, and Defendant's knowledge of his and similar behavior, will be significant in establishing her case. Plaintiff argues that Flowers is not applicable here because she is suing the mental health facility that provided the therapy, and the records are relevant to show A. B.'s history of sexually aggressive behavior and whether the facility knew of his behavior and allowed a hostile work environment to persist.

         Plaintiff also argues that the psychotherapist-patient privilege only applies to confidential communication and does not apply when the patient is a threat to others. Plaintiff asserts that A.B. has no reasonable expectation in the confidentiality of his sexual advances, and “confidential communications” do not include information about prior complaints against A.B., his diagnoses, or his history of sexually aggressive behavior.

         Plaintiff contends that, to the extent that the information requested includes records covered by HIPAA, the information is protected by the Stipulated Confidentiality Agreement and Protective Order (Doc. 21), and A.B.'s rights under HIPAA would be protected by redacting his identifying information.

         The court finds that the information is relevant to Plaintiff's claims, so this aspect of Plaintiff's motion is granted in part. Due to the court's concerns about proportionality, protecting confidential communications, and excessive intrusions on the privacy of non-parties, Defendant is ordered to provide only (1) all references in A.B.'s chart and diagnoses that refer to sexually inappropriate conduct or sexual harassment; and (2) documents pertaining to other complaints of sexually inappropriate conduct or sexual harassment made against or about A.B., including (but not limited to) complaints by Plaintiff against A.B. All documents produced are subject to the court's prior protective order (Doc. 21), and A.B.'s identifying information must be redacted.

         Interrogat ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.