Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Motion filed

                    Judge wants formal
                    request for records

By David Baker
Posted Tuesday Nov. 13, 2012

An attempt to get Samaritan Hospital/Northeast Health Inc. to produce any documents it has supporting its claim that its reputation has been damaged by the use of an Internet domain name will take several more weeks after the judge in the case said a motion would have to be filed to compel a response.

The effort started in early September with the serving of a notice to produce.  The notice made 15 demands for documents, all relating to the hospital’s claim for money for damages it says has been done to its reputation by the domain name and a logo that appeared on the page.  In particular, the notice asked for documents that showed any such damage was as a result of the name and logo, and not caused by the stories about previously unreported lawsuits alleging that patients had been killed or injured as a result of the negligence of the hospital’s staff or agents.

Other demands were for documents related to the company’s public relations and advertising expenditures. This is relevant as Northeast Health, along with other hospital in the area, has for years run a steady stream of ads in the media – even boasting about it in a staff newsletter – while that same media has for the past 12 years ignored those lawsuits that are now being reported on the Internet.

The hospital’s response to the notice to produce was 15 objections – but not a single item was provided.

Normally the next would be a conference in the judge’s chambers.  In fact, most judges and the court’s rules discourage the filing of a motion to resolve a discovery dispute.

But not Acting Supreme Court Justice Andrew Ceresia.  In a letter sent last week, he set a deadline of November 19 for a motion to compel production  of the requested documents.

So now the motion is out for service – more than a hundred pages and a $45 fee for filing – asking Ceresia to make the hospital produce the records or explain why documents showing the monetary loss it claims to have suffered are “…not relevant or material to this litigation”,  which is what one of the objections says.

The hospital’s lawyers have until December 3 to file a response.  Ceresia then has 60 days to issue a written decision.

This decision will be Ceresia’s second in this litigation.  In March, he was asked to avoid any perception of partiality by removing himself from the case because of his prior employment with the law firm that defended Samaritan Hospital over the death in 2003 of Lisa Baker.

He declined to step aside, while throwing out a counterclaim for medical records allegedly withheld by the hospital during the previous lawsuit.