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In re Asbestos Products Liability Litigation

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA


July 8, 2009

IN RE: ASBESTOS PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION

The opinion of the court was delivered by: David R. Strawbridge United States Magistrate Judge

This Document Relates To: (Oil Rig Cases) (See Exhibit A - attached case list)

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' "Motion to Quash Subpoenas or, Alternatively, for Protective Order" ("Motion") (Doc. 12), and Defendant Union Carbide Corporation's response thereto, (Doc. 46). Plaintiff's Motion concerns two subpoenas duces tecum issued by the Clerk of the Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in connection with MDL-875, one of which was served upon Dr. Richard Tannen, M.D., on June 3, 2009, and the other upon Community Portable X-Ray, Inc., on June 12, 2009. See 09-MC-103, Doc. 12, Ex. 1, 2. Plaintiffs assert that the Court should quash or modify both subpoenas. For the following reasons, we will GRANT in part and DENY in part Plaintiffs' Motions for the reasons set out in this memorandum opinion and the order to follow.

Dr. Tannen is a board-certified pulmonologist who resides in Dallas, Texas. He provided a diagnosis of asbestosis for 17 of the 25 Plaintiffs that remain in these oil rig cases.*fn1 The subpoena served upon him called for the production of a vast quantity of materials, including "[a]ll files, included but not limited to patient files, relating to the testing, screening or diagnosing of any person;" "[a]ll invoices prepared by you or on your behalf for services rendered in performing x-ray test, B reads, physical examinations, pulmonary function tests or screening, or any testing or screening . . . for any client or person;" "[a]ny and all documents, included but not limited to patient agreements, patient waivers, notices, letters, correspondence, business records, and/or communications, relating to testing, screening or diagnosing of persons[;]" "[c]opies of any and all guidelines, guidebooks, textbooks, study guide books, training manuals, equipment manuals, continuing education materials . . . referred to in conjunction with your x-ray testings, physical examinations, pulmonary function testings or screening of any person[.]" (09-MC-103, Doc. 12, Ex. 1 ¶¶ 2, 3, 7, 13.) It is essentially the same subpoena that was served upon Dr. Jay Segarra, another diagnosing doctor in these cases,*fn2 and which was subject of Judge Robreno's February 24, 2009 decision in In re: Asbestos Prods. Liab. Litig. (No. VI), and our June 25, 2009 Order and June 26, 2009 memorandum opinion. (09-MC-103, Docs. 2, 6); see also 09-MC-103, Doc. 78 (reflecting Judge Robreno's consideration of our decision in response to Motley Rice's motion to intervene and object).

In their Motion, Plaintiffs rely principally upon Judge Robreno's February 24, 2009 decision, which directed Dr. Segarra to produce only those documents and materials related to the diagnosing reports or opinions that he provided for Plaintiff's with claims currently pending in MDL 875. In re: Asbestos Prods. Liab. Litig. (No. VI), 256 F.R.D. 151, 158 (E.D. Pa. Feb. 24, 2009). Forman Perry, however, asserts that we should order Dr. Tannen to produce all of his litigation and screening materials, with certain limitations, as we required of Dr. Segarra in our consideration of Defendants' renewed motion to compel his production of documents in his capacity as a diagnosing expert in these specific cases.*fn3

Our determination with respect to Dr. Segarra, however, was based upon Defendant's substantial briefing, which we concluded "raised serious questions about [his] practices and methodology which, if proven, could have an impact upon his qualification as an expert in these cases." Memorandum Opinion,09-MC-103, Doc. 6 at 4-5.) More specifically, and upon consideration of the information provided by the Defendant, we concluded that the alleged number of patients screened and the rates of positive diagnoses were factors which could properly be considered in an evaluation of Dr. Segarra's opinions and which justified broader discovery pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b).*fn4

Defendant have made no such showing with respect to Dr. Tannen. We conclude that the subpoena served upon him is unreasonable, overbroad, and overly burdensome to the extent that "the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit." FED. R. CIV. P. 26(b)(2)(C)(1). While we accept that "qualifications and methodology affect the reliability used to support Plaintiffs' claims of asbestos-related injuries" as a general matter, we are unable to conclude, without more, that this proposition entitles Defendants "to disclosure of identities and discovery of information relating to any individual, screening physician, screening personnel and screening company that participated in any manner in generating information relating to Plaintiffs' alleged diagnoses." (Union Carbides Response to Plaintiffs' Motion to Quash, 09-MC-103, Doc. 46 at 4) (emphasis in original.)The fact that 246 of the original oil rig Plaintiffs relied upon Dr. Tannen's opinion or that "in 210 of the 246 cases, Tannen read the same X-ray initially read by Dr. Ballard when he issued his 'diagnosis' reports[,]" id. at 2, simply does not establish good cause to justify broad-based discovery of all of his litigation and screening records.

We are likewise unable to conclude that Defendant is entitled to all of the records and materials requested in the subpoena served upon Community Portable X-Ray, Inc. ("Community"). Community is a licensed provider of portable X-ray services. In opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion, Defendant asserts that "[u]pon information and belief, the X-rays for [the Plaintiffs in this case] . . . were taken by Community Portable X-rays, Inc." (Def.'s Resp. to Pl.'s Motion to Quash, 09-MC-103, Doc. 46 at 4.) The subpoena Defendant served upon Community seeks, among other materials, "any and documents which contain information, generally or specifically, relating to screening, testing or diagnoses of any person," (09-MC-103, Doc. 12, Ex. 2 ¶ 4); see id. ¶ 1, any and all "patient-type documents," (id. ¶12), all "invoices prepared by you or on your behalf . . . in generating reports or diagnoses for any client or person" (id. ¶ 5), and any and all "documents and related files that establish, relate or pertain to any medical doctor or practitioner prescribing the xray tests and the pulmonary function tests performed on any person or client[,]" (id. ¶ 30). It has no temporal limitation and is in no way tailored to X-ray services provided for the Plaintiffs in this case. Without more, we consider the subpoena to be overbroad and overly burdensome and conclude that the burden and expense of production outweighs its likely benefit. FED. R. CIV. PRO. 26(b)(2)(C)(1).

We also conclude, however, that any document or material requested in either subpoena developed in connection with a diagnosing report and/or opinion regarding the remaining Plaintiffs in this case are subject to production.Indeed, the materials requested in certain paragraphs of the "Materials to be Produced" sections of these subpoenas seek information that is relevant to this litigation. As such, we will require production of these materials as set out in our orders to follow.

DAVID R. STRAWBRIDGE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

ATTACHED LIST OF CASES

Last Name First Name Mississippi State Dist EDPA Docket No.

Court Number

Brady Clinton L. 2006-407-CV11 5:08-cv-87071 Broom Harvey E. 2006-519-CV11 5:08-cv-87069 Bullock Deloice 2006-520-CV11 5:08-cv-87072 Crawford Joseph 2006-394-CV11 5:08-cv-87080 Curd Patrick 2006-525-CV11 5:08-cv-87083 Daniels Willie Lee 2006-409-CV11 5:08-cv-87068 Daughdrill Dan Mack 2006-526-CV11 5:08-cv-87081 Dearman Rolland 2006-410-CV11 5:08-cv-87070 Dixon George D. 2006-374-CV11 5:08-cv-87077 Emler Louie T. 2006-464-CV11 5:08-cv-87084 Faust Johnny W. 2006-90-CV3 5:08-cv-85894 Herring (dec'd) Henry A. 2006-468-CV11 5:08-cv-87079 Livingston Daniel 2006-94-CV3 5:08-cv-85987 Lord, Sr. Archie A. 16-0056 5:08-cv-87030 McPhail Ralph T. 2006-345-CV9 5:08-cv-87048 Mounteer, Sr. Eliel K. 2006-555-V11 5:08-cv-87073 Newsom Joseph 16-0018 5:08-cv-87076 Newsom Lonnie 2006-414-CV11 5:08-cv-87031 Piner Ted L. 2006-415-CV11 5:08-cv-87078 Polk Brandon Kaye 2006-206-CV3 5:08-cv-85986 Polk Dale F. 2006-85-CV3 5:08-cv-85985 Rawls Ray C. 2006-417-CV11 5:08-cv-87075 Smith (dec'd) Cleophus 2006-75 5:08-cv-87032 Thomas Tony N. 2006-573-CV11 5:08-cv-87082 Wallace Terry 2006-491-CV11 5:08-cv-87074


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