United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
C. CARLSON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case involves allegations of battery, negligence and
negligent hiring and supervision in connection with an
episode of alleged sexual abuse which occurred in 2007 when
the then-minor plaintiff, R.D., was participating in a
camping excursion conducted by the defendant. In the course
of this excursion it is alleged that another camper,
identified as N.S., sexually assaulted the plaintiff, and may
have had inappropriate sexual contact with two other minors
who shared a tent with the plaintiff and N.S. during this
excursion. These two other minors are identified in these
proceedings as G.M. and E.J.
March 7, 2017, this matter was referred to the undersigned
for pretrial management and resolution of discovery disputes.
Since that time we have addressed numerous discovery disputes
between these parties. One of these discovery issues related
to a dispute concerning the extent to which the
plaintiff's counsel may have waived the work-product
privilege with respect to an investigative interview which
the plaintiff's private investigator conducted with E.J.
on February 24, 2017.
resolved this issue in an order which directed the disclosure
of only those portions of the interview of E.J. which
provided a complete background, and context on E.J.'s
recollection of the events that allegedly transpired in the
tent shared by these boys some ten years ago in 2007. (Doc.
91.) We now are invited to discuss the implications of this
ruling in the context of a discovery dispute relating to the
plaintiff's damages expert witness, Dr. Pittman. This
dispute is thoroughly outlined in the parties'
correspondence, (Docs. 184, 188 and 189), but the essential
facts are as follows:
a recent deposition of Dr. Pittman, the doctor testified that
he received a complete transcript of the investigative
interview with E.J., which included both the materials which
we ordered released, as well as other privileged information
which we did not order released. While Dr. Pittman
acknowledged having access to this entire transcript, the
parties agree that the doctor testified that this transcript
played absolutely no role whatsoever in the formulation of
his expert opinion and testimony.
the parties assure us that this factual background is
undisputed, they dispute the degree to which the entire
interview transcript must now be disclosed, with the
defendant insisting that full disclosure of this information
is now required under Rule 26(b), and the plaintiff arguing
that as to this expert witness only materials relied upon by
the expert must be disclosed. Since Dr. Pittman has testified
that he placed no reliance on this interview in formulating
his testimony and opinions, the plaintiff contends that
disclosure of the interview in its entirety is not required.
reasons set forth below, we agree that further disclosure of
this interview in its entirety is not necessary simply
because it was provided to Dr. Pittman given the undisputed
fact that the transcript played no role in the doctor's
testimony or opinions.
relating to the proper scope and nature of discovery rest in
the sound discretion of the Court. Wisniewski v.
Johns-Manville Corp., 812 F.2d 81, 90 (3d Cir. 1987). A
court's decisions regarding the conduct of discovery,
therefore, will be disturbed only upon a showing of an abuse
of discretion. Marroquin-Manriquez v.
I.N.S., 699 F.2d 129, 134 (3d Cir. 1983). This
far-reaching discretion extends to rulings by United States
Magistrate Judges on discovery matters. In this regard:
District courts provide magistrate judges with particularly
broad discretion in resolving discovery disputes. See
Farmers & Merchs. Nat'l Bank v. San Clemente Fin.
Group Sec., Inc., 174 F.R.D. 572, 585 (D.N.J.1997). When
a magistrate judge's decision involves a discretionary
[discovery] matter . . ., “courts in this district have
determined that the clearly erroneous standard implicitly
becomes an abuse of discretion standard.” Saldi v.
Paul Revere Life Ins. Co., 224 F.R.D. 169, 174
(E.D.Pa.2004) (citing Scott Paper Co. v. United
States, 943 F.Supp. 501, 502 (E.D.Pa.1996)). Under that
standard, a magistrate judge's discovery ruling “is
entitled to great deference and is reversible only for abuse
of discretion.” Kresefky v. Panasonic Commc'ns
and Sys. Co., 169 F.R.D. 54, 64 (D.N.J.1996); see
also Hasbrouck v. BankAmerica Hous. Servs., 190 F.R.D.
42, 44-45 (N.D.N.Y.1999) (holding that discovery rulings are
reviewed under abuse of discretion standard rather than de
novo standard); EEOC v. Mr. Gold, Inc., 223 F.R.D.
100, 102 (E.D.N.Y.2004) (holding that a magistrate
judge's resolution of discovery disputes deserves
substantial deference and should be reversed only if there is
an abuse of discretion).
Halsey v. Pfeiffer, No. 09-1138, 2010 WL 3735702, *1
(D.N.J. Sept. 17, 2010).
discretion extends to resolution of questions regarding the
application of the work product privilege. “The
work-product doctrine is embodied within Rule 26(b)(3) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides that
‘a party may not discover documents and tangible things
that are prepared in anticipation of litigation or for
trial' unless otherwise discoverable or a party shows
substantial need for the material. Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(3). The
doctrine is, in essence, a recognition that a lawyer requires
a ‘certain degree of privacy, free from unnecessary
intrusion by opposing parties and their counsel.'
Hickman v. Taylor,329 U.S. 495, 511, 67 S.Ct. 385,
91 L.Ed. 451 (1947). The doctrine thus is intended ‘to
protect material prepared by an attorney acting for his
client in anticipation of litigation.' United States
v. Rockwell Int'l,897 F.2d 1255, 1265 (3d
Cir.1990); see also United States v. Nobles, 422
U.S. 225, 238, 95 S.Ct. 2160, 45 L.Ed.2d 141 (1975)
(‘At its core, the work-product doctrine shelters the
mental processes of the ...