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Williams v. Baptist Healthcare System, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky, Louisville

February 20, 2018

WILLIAM H. WILLIAMS PLAINTIFF
v.
BAPTIST HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, INC. d/b/a BAPTIST HEALTH LEXINGTON DEFENDANT

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Charles R. Simpson III, Senior Judge.

         This matter is before the court on defendant Baptist Health Lexington's (“BHL”) objection to Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin's order denying BHL's motion for a protective order. ECF No. 61. For the reasons stated below, this objection will be overruled.

         I. Case Background

         This case arises from an incident that occurred at BHL on April 4, 2015. On this occasion, BHL did not have any cardiothoracic (CT) surgery physicians available to provide on-call and emergency services. ECF No. 61, p. 1. As a result, BHL instituted a policy to divert CT patients to another hospital. Id. Although this policy was communicated to Emergency Department staff, a BHL nurse received a call from an in-bound ambulance transporting a cardiac catheterization patient and mistakenly told the ambulance to bring the patient to BHL. Id. Upon realizing this mistake, the nurse attempted to contact the ambulance to divert it. Id. at 1-2. However, the ambulance arrived before the message was communicated. Id. at 2. The nurse met the ambulance outside and directed the EMTs to go to another hospital. Id.

         The patient, plaintiff William H. Williams (“Williams”), was then taken to another hospital where he underwent a five-vessel coronary artery bypass. Id. On April 4, 2016, Williams filed suit against BHL, alleging violations of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA), medical negligence, and negligence per se. Pl. Complaint, ECF No. 1.

         On March 30, 2017, Williams and BHL entered into a private protective agreement, agreeing that BHL would turn over documents it considered to be confidential and Williams would keep those documents confidential unless and until he gave notice of his intent to challenge this categorization. ECF No. 61, p. 2. In the event that the confidentiality of one or more documents was challenged, BHL would have thirty days to file a motion for a protective order with the court. Id.

         Pursuant to the private protective agreement, BHL produced various documents it claimed were confidential. Id. Williams subsequently challenged the confidentiality of twenty-five of these documents. Id. On May 23, 2017, BHL filed a motion for a protective order with the court. ECF No. 49. Then, on August 10, 2017, Judge Whalin requested in camera review of the documents in question. ECF No. 58. Judge Whalin subsequently entered an order denying BHL's motion for a protective order. ECF No. 60.

         BHL now objects to Judge Whalin's denial of a protective order.

         II. Legal Standard

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(a), a party may file an objection to a magistrate judge's order within fourteen days of being served with a copy. Upon review, a district court must “modify or set aside any part of the order that is clearly erroneous or contrary to law.” Id. Clear error exists “when the reviewing court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” Max Trucking, LLC v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Corp., 802 F.3d 793, 810 (6th Cir. 2015) (citing Anderson v. City of Bessemer City, 470 U.S. 564, 573 (1985)).

         BHL objects to Judge Whalin's denial of a protective order for its twenty-five documents. Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 26(c)(1)(G), “[t]he court may, for good cause, issue an order to protect a party or person from annoyance, embarrassment, oppression, or undue burden or expense, including . . . requiring that a trade secret or other confidential research, development, or commercial information not be revealed or be revealed only in a specified way . . .” Good cause exists when the party moving for the protective order “articulate[s] specific facts showing ‘clearly defined and serious injury' resulting from the discovery sought . . .” Nix v. Sword, 11 Fed.Appx. 498, 500 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Avirgan v. Hull, 118 F.R.D. 252, 254 (D.D.C. 1987)).

         Factors to consider in determining whether a specific item is a trade secret or confidential information include:

(1) the extent to which the information is known outside of [the] business;
(2) the extent to which it is known by employees and others involved ...

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