This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 07/07/2019 at 01:50:18 (UTC).

KERRI L COHEN VS ADAM J GOODMAN MD ET AL

Case Summary

On 02/20/2018 KERRI L COHEN filed a Personal Injury - Medical Malpractice lawsuit against ADAM J GOODMAN MD. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judge overseeing this case is STEPHEN I. GOORVITCH. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****4614

  • Filing Date:

    02/20/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Medical Malpractice

  • Court:

    Los Angeles County Superior Courts

  • Courthouse:

    Stanley Mosk Courthouse

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judge

STEPHEN I. GOORVITCH

 

Party Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner

COHEN KERRI L.

Defendants and Respondents

TORRANCE EMERGENCY PHYSICIANS INC

TRAN AARON K. M.D.

CRILEY JASMINKA M. MD

TORRANCE MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER INC

GOODMAN ADAM J. M.D.

DOES 1 TO 100

HSIAO JULIA J. D.O.

TRINH TIFFFANY T. M.D.

TORRANCE HOSPITALIST ASSOCIATES

CRILEY JASMINKA M. M.D.

TROSMAN STELLA

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorney

AGNEW GERALD E. JR. ESQ.

Defendant and Respondent Attorneys

DUMMIT CRAIG S. ESQ.

KELLY JOHN C. ESQ.

DUMMIT CRAIG STEPHEN ESQ.

FRASER WATSON & CROUTCH LLP

 

Court Documents

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

5/14/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

5/14/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

5/14/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

5/14/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

5/14/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

5/14/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

5/14/2018: PROOF OF SERVICE SUMMONS

CIVIL DEPOSIT

6/7/2018: CIVIL DEPOSIT

SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY

7/2/2018: SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY

CIVIL DEPOSIT

7/17/2018: CIVIL DEPOSIT

Request for Dismissal

5/10/2019: Request for Dismissal

Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

6/24/2019: Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name)

DEFENDANTS ADAM J. GOODMAN, M.D. AND TORRANCE EMERGENCY PHYSICIANS, INC.'S ANSWER

4/5/2018: DEFENDANTS ADAM J. GOODMAN, M.D. AND TORRANCE EMERGENCY PHYSICIANS, INC.'S ANSWER

ANSWER OF DEFENDANTS, TORRANCE MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, TORRANCE MEMORIAL HOSPITALIST ASSOCIATES, TIFFANY TRINH, M.D., AARON TRAN, M.D., AND JASMINKA CRILEY, M.D., TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

4/16/2018: ANSWER OF DEFENDANTS, TORRANCE MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, TORRANCE MEMORIAL HOSPITALIST ASSOCIATES, TIFFANY TRINH, M.D., AARON TRAN, M.D., AND JASMINKA CRILEY, M.D., TO PLAINTIFF'S COMPLAINT

CIVIL DEPOSIT

4/16/2018: CIVIL DEPOSIT

DEMAND OF DEFENDANT JULIA J. HSIAO, D.O., FOR JURY TRIAL

4/17/2018: DEMAND OF DEFENDANT JULIA J. HSIAO, D.O., FOR JURY TRIAL

SUMMONS

2/20/2018: SUMMONS

COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE

2/20/2018: COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE

12 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 06/24/2019
  • Amendment to Complaint (Fictitious/Incorrect Name); Filed by Kerri L. Cohen (Plaintiff)

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  • 06/19/2019
  • at 1:30 PM in Department 5, Stephen I. Goorvitch, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Bifurcate - Not Held - Taken Off Calendar by Party

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  • 06/19/2019
  • [Proposed Order] and Stipulation to Continue Trial, FSC (and Related Motion/Discovery Dates) Personal Injury Courts Only (Central District); Filed by Adam J. Goodman, M.D. (Defendant); Torrance Emergency Physicians, Inc (Defendant)

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  • 06/12/2019
  • at 1:30 PM in Department 5, Stephen I. Goorvitch, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Compel Discovery (not "Further Discovery")

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  • 05/17/2019
  • Notice of Entry of Dismissal and Proof of Service; Filed by Torrance Memorial Medical Center Inc (Defendant)

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  • 05/10/2019
  • Request for Dismissal; Filed by Kerri L. Cohen (Plaintiff)

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  • 05/02/2019
  • at 1:30 PM in Department 5, Stephen I. Goorvitch, Presiding; Hearing on Motion to Bifurcate - Not Held - Rescheduled by Party

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  • 07/17/2018
  • Receipt; Filed by Adam J. Goodman, M.D. (Defendant)

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  • 07/17/2018
  • CIVIL DEPOSIT

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  • 07/02/2018
  • SUBSTITUTION OF ATTORNEY

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27 More Docket Entries
  • 04/16/2018
  • CIVIL DEPOSIT

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  • 04/16/2018
  • DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

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  • 04/16/2018
  • Demand for Jury Trial; Filed by Jasminka M. Criley, M.D. (Defendant); Torrance Hospitalist Associates (Defendant); Torrance Memorial Medical Center Inc (Defendant) et al.

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  • 04/16/2018
  • Receipt; Filed by Torrance Memorial Medical Center Inc (Defendant)

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  • 04/16/2018
  • Answer; Filed by Jasminka M. Criley, M.D. (Defendant); Torrance Hospitalist Associates (Defendant); Torrance Memorial Medical Center Inc (Defendant) et al.

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  • 04/05/2018
  • Answer; Filed by Adam J. Goodman, M.D. (Defendant); Torrance Emergency Physicians, Inc (Defendant)

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  • 04/05/2018
  • DEFENDANTS ADAM J. GOODMAN, M.D. AND TORRANCE EMERGENCY PHYSICIANS, INC.'S ANSWER

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  • 02/20/2018
  • SUMMONS

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  • 02/20/2018
  • COMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE

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  • 02/20/2018
  • Complaint; Filed by Kerri L. Cohen (Plaintiff)

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Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC694614    Hearing Date: February 07, 2020    Dept: SWB

Superior Court of California

County of Los Angeles

Southwest District

Torrance Dept. B

KERRI L. COHEN,  

Plaintiff,

Case No.:

BC694614

vs.

[Tentative] RULING

ADAM J. GOODMAN, M.D., et al.,

Defendants.

Hearing Date: February 7, 2020

Moving Parties: Defendants Adam J. Goodman, M.D. and Torrance Emergency Physicians, Inc.

Responding Party: Plaintiff Kerri L. Cohen

Motion to Compel Del Amo Hospital and Thelma McMillen Center to Authorize Release of Records

The court considered the moving, opposition, and reply papers.

RULING

The motion is DENIED.

BACKGROUND

On February 20, 2018, plaintiff Kerri L. Cohen filed a complaint against Adam J. Goodman M.D., Torrance Emergency Physicians, Inc., Torrance Memorial Medical Center, Inc. Torrance Hospitalist Associates, Tiffany T. Trinh. M.D., Aaron K. Tran, M.D., Jasminka M. Criley, M.D., and Julia J. Hsiao, D.O. for medical negligence.

LEGAL AUTHORITY

CCP §1987.1(a) states, “[i]f a subpoena requires the attendance of a witness or the production of books, documents, or other things before a court, or at the trial of an issue therein, or at the taking of a deposition, the court, upon motion reasonably made by any person described in subdivision (b), or upon the court’s own motion after giving counsel notice and an opportunity to be heard, may make an order quashing the subpoena entirely, modifying it, or directing compliance with it upon those terms or conditions as the court shall declare, including protective orders.  In addition, the court may make any other order as may be appropriate to protect the person from unreasonable or oppressive demands, including unreasonable violations of the right of privacy of the person.”

“[U]pon motion reasonably made by the party, judges may rule upon motions for quashing, modifying or compelling compliance with, subpoenas.”  Lee v. Swansboro Country Property Owners Ass'n (2007) 151 Cal. App. 4th 575, 582-83.  Either the nonparty witness who has been subpoenaed or any party to the action may challenge the deposition subpoena.   Weil & Brown, Civ. Proc. Before Trial, ¶ 8:597. 

Medical records are protected by the right to privacy.  Although relevance is typically construed liberally (see Pacific Tel. & Tel. Co. v. Superior Court (1970) 2 Cal.3d 161, 169), the standard is more stringent when a party is attempting to discover documents which are constitutionally protected by the right to privacy, such as consumer records: 

[E]ven when discovery of private information is found directly relevant to the issues of ongoing litigation, it will not be automatically allowed; there must then be a careful balancing of the compelling public need for discovery against the fundamental right of privacy.  . . . [I]f an intrusion on the right of privacy is deemed necessary under the circumstances of a particular case, any such intrusion should be the minimum intrusion necessary to achieve its objective . . . [meaning] the least intrusive means to satisfy the interest.  Mere convenience of means or cost will not satisfy that test for that would make expediency and not the compelling interest the overriding value.

Lantz v. Superior Court (1994) 28 Cal.App.4th 1839, 1854-1855 [internal quotes and citations omitted].

This is true even where the party asserting the right to privacy is the party who brought the suit.  See Vinson v. Superior Court (1987) 43 Cal.3d 833, 842 (“While the filing of a lawsuit may implicitly bring about a partial waiver of one’s constitutional right of associational privacy, the scope of such waiver must be narrowly rather than expansively construed, so that plaintiffs will not be unduly deterred from instituting lawsuits . . . . [A]n implicit waiver of a party’s constitutional rights encompasses only discovery directly relevant to the plaintiff’s claim and essential to the fair resolution of the lawsuit.”.)  The burden is on the party seeking the constitutionally protected information to establish direct relevance.  Harris v. Superior Court (1992) 3 Cal. App. 4th 661, 665.

DISCUSSION

Defendants Adam J. Goodman, M.D. and Torrance Emergency Physicians, Inc. request that the court compel the production of plaintiff’s records in compliance with defendants’ subpoenas duces tecum to Del Amo Hospital and Thelma McMillen Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment.  The subpoenas seek any and all medical records from 2012 to the present.

The complaint alleges that plaintiff presented the Emergency Dept. at Torrance Memorial Medical Center on February 20, 2017, with complaints of pain in her upper back and abdomen and a feeling “like her backbones are protruding from her upper back.”  Plaintiff was seen by Dr. Goodman, who noted plaintiff’s history of alcohol abuse, a recent hospitalization for complications of a rectal prolapse resulting in severe pain, and what he called “chronic opiate dependence.”  Instead of addressing her complaints, Dr. Goodman ignored these complaints of mid-back pain and numbness in her legs as well as the x-ray findings, and discharged her home with diagnosis of abdomen pain, constipation as a result of opiod dependence and weakness.  Complaint, ¶18.

Plaintiff further alleges that on February 22, 2017, she began to experience difficulty walking and weakness, numbness and tingling in her legs, and returned to the Emergency Department by ambulance.  She was seen again by Dr. Goodman who did not believe that plaintiff’s symptoms were real.  He ordered a lumbar spine MRI but failed to order a thoracic spine MRI.  He noted that there was a “lack of effort” when plaintiff was unable to move her lower extremities.  He admitted plaintiff to the hospital.  Id., ¶19.  Hospitalist defendant Trinh examined plaintiff, adopting the history prepared by Dr. Goodman along with his suspicions that plaintiff’s symptoms were fake.  He did not treat her symptoms emergently and noted that a neurology evaluation should be considered the next morning and that plaintiff’s back pain was chronic and that she was opiate dependent. 

Plaintiff further alleges that on February 23, 2017, defendant Dr. Hsiao saw plaintiff for a neurology consultation.  By this time, plaintiff’s legs were numb but she could still some sensation.  The numbness had spread to her abdomen.  Id., ¶22.  On February 24, a thoracic spine MRI was performed and revealed severe cord compression at T7 and T8 with Gibbus deformity and severe cord edema and cord compression at T7-8 with fracture.  On either the evening of February 24 or the morning of February 25, a neurosurgeon performed a decompressive thoracic laminectomy and decompression of the spinal cord.  Because plaintiff had by then already lost complete motor and sensation in the lower extremity, she was left with paraplegia and neurogenic bowel and bladder.  Id., ¶¶ 22-23.

Welfare and Inst. Code §5328 states, in part, “(a) All [mental health ]information and records obtained in the course of providing services . . . to either voluntary or involuntary recipients of services are confidential. . . . Information and records shall be disclosed only in any of the following cases: . . . (6) To the courts, as necessary to the administration of justice. . . .”

Evidence Code §994 states, “[s]ubject to Section 912 and except as otherwise provided in this article, the patient, whether or not a party, has a privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent another from disclosing, a confidential communication between patient and physician . . . .”  The same privilege applies to communications between a patient and her psychotherapist.  Evidence Code §1014.  “’The patient-litigant exception allows only a limited inquiry into the confidences of the psychotherapist-patient relationship, compelling disclosure of only those matters directly relevant to the nature of the specific “emotional or mental” condition which the patient has voluntarily disclosed and tendered in his pleadings or in answer to discovery inquiries.  Furthermore, even when confidential information falls within this exception, trial courts, because of the intimate and potentially embarrassing nature of such communications, may utilize the protective measures at their disposal to avoid unwarranted intrusions into the confidences of the relationship.’”  People v. Garcia (2010) 185 Cal. App. 4th 1203, 1211.  Evidence Code §999 states, “[t]here is no privilege under this article as to a communication relevant to an issue concerning the condition of the patient in a proceeding to recover damages on account of the conduct of the patient if good cause for disclosure of the communication is shown.”

On December 20, 2019, defendants served the subpoenas, and on January 10, 2020, plaintiff objected on the grounds of plaintiff’s right to privacy and that the records are not calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.  On January 9, 2020, defendants issued “amended” subpoenas.

Defendants argue that they have good cause because their interest in obtaining plaintiff’s records outweighs any privacy interest because plaintiff opened the door to disclosure of her history of substance use disorder by alleging Dr. Goodman treated her below the standard of care because he thought she was a “drug seeker.”  Defendants contend that although plaintiff’s family members have testified that plaintiff never had any substance abuse issues other than alcohol, prior medical records show positive toxicology results for other substances.  Defendants assert that whether plaintiff had a history of significant or substance abuse of narcotics is relevant to liability as it is a factor in determining the reasonableness of Dr. Goodman’s assessment of plaintiff in February 2017 and his recommendation to discontinue Dilaudid, a prescription pain narcotic that plaintiff was taking at the time of the treatment at issue.  Further, plaintiff is claiming significant future medical expenses for lifetime care; thus, her life expectancy is a significant factor in analyzing damages. 

In opposition, plaintiff argues that the subpoenas should be quashed or, in the alternative, limited in scope.  Plaintiff asserts that the subpoenas are impermissibly overbroad in scope, time, and subject matter and, as such, seek information that is neither relevant nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.  Further, she argues, they invade her right to privacy and call for information within the protective ambit of the physician-patient privilege and/or psychologist-patient privilege.  Plaintiff argues that her psychotherapy records and rehabilitation history are irrelevant. 

The court finds that plaintiff’s objections have merit.  Defendants have not shown direct relevance or a compelling need for such information.

The motion is DENIED.

Plaintiff is ordered to give notice of the ruling.