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Jansson v. Stamford Health, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

May 24, 2018

SAMANTHA JANSSON, Plaintiff,
v.
STAMFORD HEALTH, INC. d/b/a STAMFORD HOSPITAL, STAMFORD HOSPITAL, STAMFORD ANESTHESIOLOGY SERVICES, P.C., VANTAGEPOINT LLC d/b/a VANTAGEPOINT HEALTHCARE ADVISORS, MICHAEL COADY, SHARON KIELY, SAL MANCINO and THERESA BOWLING, Defendants.

          RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION [DOC. 237]

          CHARLES S. HAIGHT, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff has filed a Motion for Reconsideration [Doc. 237] of this Court's May 7, 2018 Ruling [Doc. 235] ("the May 7 Ruling"), which resolved Plaintiff's earlier motion to compel discovery in the form of production of documents [Doc. 190]. Defendants need not respond to Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny that motion and adhere to the May 7 Ruling.

         The principal issue decided by the May 7 Ruling was generated by the contention of Defendant Stamford Hospital that a sizable number of documents sought by Plaintiff in discovery were protected from disclosure by the "common defense rule" (also referred to as a "joint defense agreement" or "JDA"). Counsel for Stamford Hospital sought to implement that claimed protection by filing a "privilege log, " in purported obedience to Local Civil Rule 26(e). The Court's May 7 Ruling reviewed Second Circuit authority on the point, held that Stamford Hospital's privilege log was deficient, in that (a) it failed to demonstrate sufficiently the existence of a common defense or JDA, and (b) the descriptions of the particular documents sought to be protected did not justify a protected status. The May 7 Ruling concluded by granting leave to Stamford Hospital and co-Defendant Stamford Anesthesiology Services ("SAS") (the other party to the proclaimed JDA) to "submit additional papers in support of a claim that certain particular documents . . . are protected by an evidentiary privilege." See Slip Opinion (2018 WL 2095169, at *14 (D. Conn. May 7, 2018)).

         Plaintiff's motion for reconsideration focuses upon the Ruling's concluding grant of time to allow Defendants to attempt to show particular documents are privileged. Plaintiff contends that the Court, in granting that leave, acted improvidently or out of ignorance. The Court should, in Plaintiff's view, direct production forthwith of all documents referred to in the prior motion papers.

         Local Civil Rule 7(c)1 of this Court provides: "Motions for reconsideration shall not be routinely filed and shall satisfy the strict standard applicable to such motions. Such motions will generally be denied unless the movant can point to controlling decisions or data that the court overlooked in the initial decision or order."

         In the case at bar, the May 7 Ruling is "the initial decision or order." On the particular issue Plaintiff asks the Court to reconsider, the initial decision said:

On the present state of the record, Plaintiff Jansson would be entitled to an Order compelling production of every document referred to in her motion to compel. The Court has in mind, however, that the attorney-client privilege exists for the benefit of the client, not the attorney. When the issue arises in litigation, a party's failure to demonstrate its entitlement to the protection of a privilege is most likely ascribable to the attorney, not the client, but the client suffers the prejudice of a disclosure that should not have been made.

2018 WL 2095169, at *14. Those circumstances prompted me, in what I considered to be in furtherance of the justice of the cause, to allow Defendants some time to prove (if they could) the existence of a JDA, and also to prove (if they could) that a particular document fell within the boundaries of the resulting privilege.

         Plaintiff regards any grant of time for that purpose as mistaken and unjust. She files her motion for reconsideration "because an undisputed issue may have been overlooked by the Court and to prevent manifest injustice." Notice of Motion [Doc. 237], at 1.

         It appears from Plaintiff's brief on the motion [Doc. 237-1] at 2-3 that the "undisputed issue" referred to in the notice of motion is in reality an "undisputed inconsistency in the Defendants' positions." That inconsistency arises out of a discussion Plaintiff's attorney, Heena Kapadia, had with Stamford Hospital's attorney, Justin Theriault, in which Mr. Theriault said that the institutional clients had entered into a joint defense agreement, and a subsequent discussion Attorney Kapadia had with SAS's attorney, Brian Tims, in which Mr. Tims said he was not aware of a joint defense agreement.

         As for the justice of the cause, Plaintiff is critical of defense counsel's conduct of the case; her brief at 3 asks

that the Court reconsider the decision to allow Defendants additional time to produce the joint defense agreement or otherwise substantiate the privilege because the circumstances here do not warrant this remedy. Plaintiff made it absolutely clear in her Motion to Compel and for In Camera Inspection papers that Defendants' failure to produce evidence of a joint defense agreement is problematic. Plaintiff explained in exhaustive detail the glaring deficiencies in their position and their failure to produce any evidence. Plaintiff provided a complete analysis of the issues and a clear roadmap in her papers as to what the Defendants were required to do. Defendants were on notice that they had to provide evidence to substantiate their claims of privilege. They chose not to do so.

Doc. 237-1, at 3 (emphasis in original).

         These two issues, viewed separately or in combination, do nothing to support ...


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