United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
ANDREA CRAWFORD, Administratrix of the Estate of Monty Crawford, Plaintiff,
CORIZON HEALTH, INC., et al. Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
Barbara Jacobs Rothstein U.S. District Court Judge
Court held a telephonic hearing in this matter on April 17,
2018, concerning a discovery dispute that has arisen between
the parties. Participating in the hearing were Wayne Ely,
counsel for Plaintiff; Katie Kenyon, counsel for Defendant
Corizon Health, Inc.; and Evan Lowry, counsel for Defendant
Samir Moussa, M.D. Having reviewed the parties' Joint
Statement of Issues and counsel's correspondence attached
thereto, and having heard argument of counsel, the Court
finds and rules as follows:
case involves a claim brought under 42 U.S.C. §1983 by
Andrea Crawford, whose decedent Monty Crawford died on May
21, 2015 while detained at the Allegheny County jail.
Plaintiff Crawford has brought suit against Corizon Health,
Inc., which contracted with the jail to provide medical
services, and its individual employees, health care providers
working at the jail.
alleges her son committed suicide while detained in the jail;
that he did so as a result of defendants' failure to
dispense certain necessary medications while he was in
custody; and that defendants' deliberate indifference to
his medical needs constituted a violation of his Eighth
Amendment rights. In January of this year, the Court denied
defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that the pleadings
were sufficient for stating this claim.
dispute before the Court, Plaintiff is seeking (1) an in
camera review by the Court of the five documents listed
on the privilege log in Defendant's counsel's March
2, 2018 correspondence (see Joint Statement, Ex. A
at 8); and (2) an order compelling Defendant Corizon to
produce documents in response to Request for Production No.
29, which seeks “Any and all reports evidencing any
investigation into the death of any inmate at the Allegheny
County Jail” from September 1, 2013 through August 31,
2015. After hearing argument of counsel, the Court issued the
The Peer Review Act Privilege Does Not Apply
responses to several Requests for Production, Defendant
Corizon objected to production of documents relating to a
Sentinel Act Corrective Act Plan, claiming a privilege based
on the Pennsylvania Peer Review Protection Act. That statute
provides, “the proceedings and records of a review
committee shall be held in confidence and shall not be
subject to discovery or introduction into evidence in any
civil action against a professional health care provider
arising out of the matters which are the subject of
evaluation and review by such committee.” 63 Pa. Stat.
Ann. § 425.4 (1996).
argues that a state-law privilege does not apply in a federal
case brought pursuant to federal law. Fed.R.Evid. 501
(“privilege . . . shall be governed by the principles
of the common law as they may be interpreted by the courts of
the United States.”); see Weiss v. Cty. of
Chester, 231 F.R.D. 202, 204-05 (E.D. Pa.
2005)(“federal privileges apply to federal law claims,
and state privileges apply to claims arising under state
law.”), citing Pearson v. Miller, 211 F.3d 57,
66 (3d Cir. 2000). In Weiss, the Court declined to
extend the state statutory Peer Review privilege into federal
common law, finding that the Third Circuit disfavors
privilege, and that the U.S. Congress has considered, but
declined to extend, a similar peer-review privilege to
federal courts. Weiss at 205. Defendant,
acknowledging the heavy weight of authority against it,
conceded a Peer Review privilege was not available in this
case. The Court holds that the Peer Review privilege does not
apply to this case, and that Defendant cannot withhold
discovery on these grounds.
The Court Will Conduct an In Camera Review of Five the
has asked the Court to conduct an in camera review
of five documents Defendant has withheld from production, to
evaluate the merits of Defendant's claim of an
attorney-client privilege. The five documents, listed in
counsel Kathryn Kenyon's March 2, 2018 letter to Wayne
Ely, shall be produced to the Court for such review no later
than April 23, 2018.
Defendant Shall Produce Documents in Response to