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Carpenter v. Kloptoski

January 8, 2010

PHILIP CARPENTER, PLAINTIFF
v.
SUPERINTENDENT KLOPTOSKI, ET AL., DEFENDANTS



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Conner

MEMORANDUM

This civil rights action is presently proceeding via an amended complaint filed on July 22, 2009. (Doc. 39.) Presently before the court are plaintiff's "Motion[s] to quash/object to defendant's subpoena for production of documents [directed to a non-party]." (Docs. 63-64.) Specifically, plaintiff seeks to quash defendant Dr. Jesse's subpoena seeking disclosure of plaintiff's medical and mental health records and grievance documents. For the reasons set forth below, the motions will be granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

Plaintiff, a Pennsylvania state inmate incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution at Dallas ("SCI-Dallas"), alleges that defendant "Dr. Jesse unreasonably and wilfully denied plaintiff adequate and competent psychological treatment in that she showed deliberate indifference to the plaintiff's psychological needs, and denied plaintiff due process in justifying the taking of plaintiff's single cell in retaliation for plaintiff's pursuit of legal remedies. Dr. Jesse failed in her moral and contractual agreements to provide care and as such is liable." (Doc. 36, at 1, ¶ 1; at 14, ¶ 23.)

II. Discussion

A. Standing

Defendant first argues that plaintiff lacks standing to challenge the subpoena. While a motion to quash or modify a subpoena, in general, must be brought by the individual to whom it was directed, there is an exception that provides a party standing when he or she seeks to quash or modify the non-party subpoena on the basis of a privilege or privacy interest in the subpoenaed information. See Thomas v. Marina Associates, 202 F.R.D. 433, 434-435 (E.D. Pa. 2001). Plaintiff argues that his medical and mental health records and grievance documents are privileged and confidential. Consequently, he has standing to challenge the subpoena.

B. Plaintiff's Grounds for Quashing the Subpoena

Plaintiff raises three arguments in attempting to quash the subpoena. He first seeks to quash the subpoena pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(c)(3)(A)(ii), which states that the court must quash a subpoena that "requires a person who is neither a party nor a party's officer to travel more than 100 miles. . . ." His second argument is that because the records sought are privileged and confidential, the subpoena should be quashed as provided in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(c)(3)(A)(iii) (requiring a court to quash or modify a subpoena when it requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies). Finally, he argues that the request for "every" grievance will produce documents that are irrelevant and prejudicial.

C. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(c)(3)(A)(ii)

To the extent that plaintiff seeks to quash the subpoena pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(c)(3)(A)(ii), because it"requires a person who is neither a party nor a party's officer to travel more than 100 miles . . . ," the motion will be denied based on defendant's representation that no travel was required and that the documents have already produced via the mail.*fn1 (Doc. 65, at 2.)

D. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(c)(3)(A)(iii)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 45(c)(3)(A)(iii) mandates a court to quash or modify a subpoena when it requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no exception or waiver applies. Plaintiff contends that his medical*fn2 and mental health records*fn3 and his grievance documents are privileged and confidential and should not be released without his authorization. (Doc. 64, at 2.)

A claim of privilege is not absolute because it does not only depend on the statutory or constitutional ground. Thorne v. Universal Properties, No. 86-0333, 1987 WL 7683, at *1 (E.D. Pa. March 10, 1987). The privilege must be weighed against countervailing interests in order to insure the "fairness and integrity of the judicial system." O'Boyle v. Jensen, 150 F.R.D. 519, 522 (M.D. Pa. 1993). Significantly, one cannot pursue a claim against the defendant for injuries related to their medical condition while blocking access to treatment records that are potentially relevant to the issues ...


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