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Hall v. Shiff

Superior Court of Rhode Island

February 17, 2015

PAULINE R. HALL, Plaintiff
v.
RITA SHIFF, PA-C, BROWN UNIVERSITY in Providence in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and QUEST DIAGNOSTICS, LLC Defendants

Providence County Superior Court

For Plaintiff: Yvette M. Boisclair, Esq. Mark S. Mandell, Esq.

For Defendant: Stephen P. Harten, Esq. Anthony S. Aprea, Esq. William J. Dailey, Jr., Esq. Mark P. Dolan, Esq.

DECISION

GIBNEY, P.J.

Before this Court is Third-Party Defendant Quest Diagnostics, LLC's (Quest or Third-Party Defendant) motion to strike Brown University and Rita Shiff, PA-C's (Brown or Third-Party Plaintiff) expert disclosures, in part, as it relates to the disclosure of expert Patrick T. Jones, Esq. (Mr. Jones). This motion is made pursuant to Rules 408 and 703 of the Rhode Island Rules of Evidence (Rules 408 and 703). Rules 408 and 703. At issue is whether Mr. Jones may base his expert opinion-regarding the reasonableness of the settlement amount-upon information he learned in an interview with Brown's attorney, William J. Dailey (Mr. Dailey). Quest contends that the substance of the conversation-between Mr. Dailey and Mark Dolan (Mr. Dolan)-is privileged, and thus Mr. Jones should be excluded from testifying because he took such information into account when forming his expert opinion. For the reasons set forth below, Quest's motion is denied.

I

Facts

The basic facts of this matter were previously recounted in this Court's Decision of May 23, 2013 regarding Quest's Motions to Compel.[1] The Court will supplement the facts as necessary to decide the instant motion. The underlying litigation was resolved during mediation in February 2011 when Brown settled the case with Pauline Hall (Ms. Hall) for $6.5 million. Quest has made no payment to Ms. Hall. Brown's cross-claim against Quest seeks contribution. As part of this contribution claim against Quest, Brown seeks to prove the reasonableness of the settlement with Ms. Hall. In this regard, Brown has disclosed Mr. Jones as an expert to testify with respect to the reasonableness of its settlement.

Mr. Jones is a founding partner of the law firm of Jones Kelleher LLP and he possesses over thirty-five years of experience as a trial lawyer, litigating substantial personal injury and medical malpractice actions. (Mem. in Supp. of Quest's Mot. to Strike, Ex. A). He is expected to testify that Ms. Hall's economic and non-economic claims against all of the defendants in the underlying action had a reasonable settlement value range of $5 to $7.5 million and that Brown's decision to limit the defendants' exposure by settling all of Ms. Hall's claims in the amount of $6.5 million was reasonable. Id. at 4. In support of this conclusion, Mr. Jones intends to testify that in forming his opinions and conclusions, he took into account Ms. Hall's medical records and course of treatment, the accrual of interest per annum from the date of written notice of the claim, the high competency of Ms. Hall's attorney, the credibility of Ms. Hall's trial experts, Ms. Hall's ability to present as a good witness to the jury, and his experience and knowledge of previous verdicts and settlements in Rhode Island medical malpractice and catastrophic injury cases. Id. at 4-7. Additionally, Mr. Jones is expected to testify that he based his opinions and conclusions, in part, upon an interview he had with Brown's attorney, Mr. Dailey. During this interview, Mr. Dailey described to Mr. Jones conversations he previously had with Quest's attorney, Mr. Dolan, in which they discussed the potential value of the case. Id.

In his deposition, Mr. Jones stated that, in his interview, Mr. Dailey,

"described a conversation that he had with [Mr. Dolan] where he described generally what the value of this case might be in Massachusetts and what he was thinking of in terms of the value of it as he was looking at it beginning to prepare for mediation . . . [and] identified a number in the sort of three and a half [million] to four and half [million], five [million] range. And he indicated that [Mr. Dolan] responded by saying that in Rhode Island a case like this would have an aggregate value in the range of $6 million." Jones Dep. 28:24-29:12, Oct. 1, 2014.

Later in the deposition, Mr. Jones was asked if the aforementioned conversation was "part of the information upon which [he] relied in the formulation of [his] opinions and conclusions." Id. at 30:22-30:23. Mr. Jones answered that "[i]t was a piece of the puzzle that supported the opinion that [he] arrived at" and that "it supported opinions and conclusions that [he] had made." Id. at 31:1-31:2; 31:8-31:9.

II

Standard of Review


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