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Meeker v. Starfish Children's Services

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

May 16, 2019

ROBERT MEEKER, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
STARFISH CHILDREN'S SERVICES, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER

          JOHN C. COUGHENOUR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on the parties' joint Local Civil Rule 37 submissions (Dkt. Nos. 54, 65). The Court has thoroughly considered the parties' briefing and the relevant record, and hereby ORDERS that:

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Court has previously set forth the facts of this case, and will not repeat them here. (See Dkt. Nos. 32, 76.) Since beginning discovery, a series of discovery disputes have arisen. (See Dkt. Nos. 54, 65.) On March 25, 2019, in accordance with Local Civil Rule 37, the parties filed their first joint motion for discovery (“LCR 37 Submission No. 1”), which included two discovery disputes. (Dkt. No. 54.) Justifying the Court's faith in the parties' ability to resolve discovery disputes without judicial intervention, the parties have since resolved one of these two disputes. (Dkt. No. 75.) The remaining issue in LCR 37 Submission No. 1 is whether Plaintiffs' adopted children's medical records (besides C.M.'s, the adopted child at issue in this litigation) are discoverable. (See Dkt. No. 54.)

         On April 18, 2019, the parties filed their second joint motion for discovery (“LCR 37 Submission No. 2”). (Dkt. No. 65.) LCR Submission No. 2 asks the Court to determine whether 28 different privilege log entries asserted by Defendant Michael Bosmann are indeed subject to either the attorney-client privilege or the work product doctrine. (See id.) Plaintiffs assert that the privilege log entries are ripe for in camera review. (See id.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Motions to Compel Discovery

          Discovery motions are strongly disfavored. “Parties may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party's claim or defense and proportional to the needs of the case . . . .” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1). In addressing the proportionality of discovery, the Court considers “the importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant information, the parties' resources, the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely benefit.” Id. The Court has broad discretion to decide whether to compel discovery. Phillips ex rel. Estates of Byrd v. Gen. Motors Corp., 307 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir. 2002).

         B. LCR 37 Submission No. 1

         In the parties' first joint submission, Defendant Bosmann seeks the medical records of Plaintiffs' adopted children other than C.M. (Dkt. No. 54 at 13-15.) Defendant Bosmann asserts that these records are relevant for two reasons: (1) the records may refute Plaintiffs' assertion that they are unable to provide adequate care for C.M. because they may show that Plaintiffs' other children suffer from equally or more severe medical conditions; and (2) the records may shed light on the amount of damages actually suffered by Plaintiffs (for example, if Plaintiffs' other adopted children's conditions have contributed to Plaintiffs' claimed damages). (Id.) Plaintiffs oppose the production of the medical records because: (1) the request invades the privacy of them and their other adopted children; and (2) Defendant Bosmann may obtain the information he seeks through less intrusive means. (Id. at 15-18.)

         The Court is mindful of the extremely sensitive nature of the medical records of Plaintiffs' other adopted children. However, some of their medical history is relevant to whether Plaintiffs have the ability to properly care for C.M. This is because if Plaintiffs are able to care for equally or more severe medical conditions of their other children, they may be more capable of caring for C.M. than they indicate.

         Keeping in mind the sensitive nature of the children's full medical files, the Court ORDERS Plaintiffs to produce, whether in the form of deposition testimony or a response to an interrogatory, the following information about each of Plaintiffs' other adopted children: (1) medical diagnoses (except mental health diagnoses); (2) treatments related to the aforementioned diagnoses; (3) prognoses; (4) a typical week of care for each child (including schedule and cost); and (5) any special care each child needs over the course of a longer period of time (including schedule and cost). In order to protect the confidential nature of this information, the parties are ORDERED to submit a revised stipulated protective order that covers the medical history and information for each of Plaintiffs' adopted children other than C.M., no later than 14 days from the entry of this order. Plaintiffs shall comply with this order no later than 14 days after the Court enters the stipulated protective order.

         C. LCR 37 Submission No. 2

         In the parties' second joint submission, Plaintiffs seek in camera review of numerous documents in Defendant Bosmann's privilege log that he argues are either subject to the ...


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