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Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Co. v. Kleinfeld

Supreme Court of Kentucky

February 14, 2019

ALLSTATE PROPERTY & CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY APPELLANT
v.
ROBERT KLEINFELD, DC; INDIVIDUALLY AND AS CORPORATE REPRESENTATIVE FOR LOUISVILLE SPORTS INJURY CENTER, P.S.C. D/B/A LOUISVILLE SPORTS INJURY CHIROPRACTIC INJURY & REHAB CENTER APPELLEES AND HONORABLE BRIAN EDWARDS, CIRCUIT JUDGE, JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT, DIVISION ELEVEN APPELLEE AND JEFFREY A. STREEVAL REAL PARTY IN INTEREST

          ON APPEAL FROM COURT OF APPEALS CASE NO. 2018-CA-000392 JEFFERSON CIRCUIT COURT NO. 16-CI-002639

          COUNSEL FOR APPELLANT: Eric Shawn Rice Kristin M. Lomond Daniel S. Gumm Quintairos, Prieto, Wood 8b Boyer, P.A.

          COUNSEL FOR APPELLEES ROBERT KLEINFELD, DC; INDIVIDUALLY AND AS CORPORATE REPRESENTATIVE FOR LOUISVILLE SPORTS INJURY CENTER, P.S.C. D/B/A LOUISVILLE SPORTS INJURY CHIROPRACTIC INJURY 8b REHAB CENTER: John H. Ruby John H. Ruby 8& Associates

          COUNSEL FOR REAL PARTY IN INTEREST JEFFREY A. STREEVAL: Michael Andrew Landisman Honorable Brian Edwards, Circuit Judge Jefferson Circuit Court, Division Eleven

          OPINION

          MINTON CHIEF JUSTICE

         REVERSING

         Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Co. appeals from the Court of Appeals' decision to grant Dr. Robert Kleinfeld's writ petition precluding the discovery of certain information. Finding that the Court of Appeals did not properly apply the extraordinary writ petition standard, we reverse the Court of Appeals.

         I. BACKGROUND.

         Allstate is the insurer for Jeffery A. Streeval. Following an automobile accident, Streeval filed a claim with Allstate for basic reparation benefits. Allstate filed a petition, under Kentucky Revised Statutes ("KRS") 304.39- 280(3)[1], in Jefferson Circuit Court to require Streeval to submit to an examination under oath to determine the legitimacy of his claim. Streeval filed a counterclaim, alleging that Allstate violated the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act[2] by refusing to pay his medical expenses without reasonable foundation. At issue is Allstate's discovery request for information from Dr. Robert Kleinfeld, individually and as corporate representative for Louisville Sports Injury Center, P.S.C. ("LSIC"), LSIC being a nonparty that provided medical treatment to Streeval.

         The dispute leading to Dr. Kleinfeld's writ petition is Allstate's notice to take a deposition duces tecum and the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum upon Dr. Kleinfeld as the corporate representative of LSIC. Allstate requested Dr. Kleinfeld to appear and produce the following information:

(1) The entire file related to Jeffrey Streeval, cover to cover, including anything stored electronically.
(2) Any and all correspondence, documents, materials or other items which are in your possession regarding the medical reports and bills related to treatment provided by Louisville Sports & Injury Center for Jeffrey Streeval.
(3) Any and all documents evidencing that Louisville Sports & Injury Center paid any other provider for the Jeffrey Streeval Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scans (hereinafter "MRI's") and how much Louisville Sports & Injury Center paid any other medical provider for Jeffrey Streeval's MRI.
(4) Any and all contracts, agreements and other documents evidencing an agreement between Louisville Sports & Injury Center and the medical provider that provided Jeffrey Streeval's MRI.
(5) Any and all Articles of Incorporation (including all amendments and addendums).
(6) Any and all reports authored by the radiologist who read and interpreted Jeffrey Streeval's MRI(s). (This includes any and all versions, drafts, and editions, including any furnished directly from the radiologist and any companies who employed the radiologist.}[3]

         The trial court entered an order compelling LSIC, through Dr. Kleinfeld, to produce the requested discovery. LSIC, through Dr. Kleinfeld, then filed a motion for a protective order to prevent the disclosure of the requested discovery except for information relating to Streeval's medical reports and bills, which the trial court denied.

         LSIC, through Dr. Kleinfeld, filed a petition for a writ of prohibition in the Court of Appeals seeking protection from the trial court's order compelling discovery, which the Court of Appeals granted. Allstate then appealed to this Court as a matter of right.[4]

         II. ANALYSIS.

         We summarized the standard for appellate review of a lower court's decision in a writ action in Appalachian Racing, LLC v. Commonwealth:

We employ a three-part analysis in reviewing the appeal of a writ action. We review the Court of Appeals' factual findings for clear error. Legal conclusions we review under the de novo standard. But ultimately, the decision whether or not to issue a writ of prohibition is a question of judicial discretion. So review of a court's decision to issue a writ is conducted under the abuse-of-discretion standard. That is, we will not reverse the lower court's ruling absent a finding that the determination was "arbitrary, unreasonable, unfair, or unsupported by sound legal principles."[5]

         At the outset, we note that "[t]he issuance of a writ is an extraordinary remedy that is disfavored by our jurisprudence. We are, therefore, 'cautious and conservative both in entertaining petitions for and in granting such relief.[6] Writs "are truly extraordinary in nature and are reserved exclusively for those situations where litigants will be subjected to substantial injustice if they are required to proceed."[7] "The exigency must be extreme, the threatened danger practically certain, and the consequent irremediable injury equally imminent, before the writ should be so employed. It must be rare when the occasion can arise."[8] "To obtain an extraordinary writ, such as a writ of prohibition, a petitioner is required to meet a high standard. That standard is well known."[9] "This careful approach is necessary to prevent short-circuiting normal appeal procedure and to limit so far as possible interference with the proper and efficient operation of our circuit and other courts. If this avenue of relief were open to all who considered themselves aggrieved by an interlocutory court order, we would face an impossible burden of nonappellate matters."[10] "This policy is embodied in a simple statement[:] 'Extraordinary writs are disfavored . . . .W11 Moreover:

[T]he writ of prohibition[11] is extraordinary in nature. Such a writ bypasses the regular appellate process and requires significant interference with the lower courts' administration of justice. The expedited nature of writ proceedings necessitates an abbreviated record. This magnifies the chance of incorrect rulings that would prematurely and improperly cut off the rights of litigants, if the process were not strictly scrutinized for appropriateness. As such, the specter of injustice always hovers over writ proceedings, which explains why courts of this Commonwealth are-and should be- loath to grant the extraordinary writs unless absolutely necessary. Because they fall outside the regular appellate process, especially when they are used as de facto interlocutory appeals (an increasing, undesired trend), writ petitions also consume valuable judicial resources, slow down the administration of justice (even when correctly entertained), and impose potentially unnecessary costs on litigants. Thus, to say that writ petitions should be reserved for extraordinary cases and are therefore discouraged is an understatement.[12]

         This Court in Commonwealth v. Peters explained that "relief by way of a writ of prohibition is an 'extraordinary remedy and we have always been cautious and conservative both in entertaining petitions for and in granting such relief."'[13] Writ cases are divided into essentially two classes based on whether the inferior court allegedly is acting: (1) without jurisdiction (which includes "beyond its jurisdiction"); or (2) erroneously within its jurisdiction.[14]

         It appears that Dr. Kleinfeld may be contesting the jurisdiction of the trial court over this case without ever explicitly saying so. The extent of Dr. Kleinfeld's argument on this point is two different statements that suggest such a challenge, one statement being: "The only recognized and authorized way to contest the reasonableness of either the service or the charges for said service would be to move the court for authority and to then cause Mr. Streeval to undergo an independent medical exam."[15] Such a statement suggests that Dr. Kleinfeld is ...


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