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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) Motion to Compel Deposition Testimony (Motion). This Motion is made pursuant to Super. R. Civ. P. 26, 30, and 37 (Rules 26, 30 and 37). See Rules 26, 30 and 37. Third-Party Plaintiff Brown University (Brown) objects to Quest's Motion. For the reasons set forth below, Quest's Motion is granted.

I

Facts & Travel

The basic facts of this matter were previously recounted by this Court in its Decision of May 23, 2013 regarding Quest's Motions to Compel.[1] Accordingly, the Court will supplement the facts as necessary to decide the instant Motion.

On March 24, 2008, Pauline Hall (Ms. Hall) filed suit alleging, among other things, that Quest was negligent in the performance and processing of laboratory testing when Ms. Hall presented to Brown University Health Services in May of 2006. At that time, Quest provided laboratory testing services at Brown University Health Services pursuant to a Professional Services Agreement.

On December 10, 2010, Brown filed a cross-complaint against Quest alleging negligence, breach of contract, indemnity, and contribution. Brown alleges that Quest was negligent in the provision of laboratory services to Ms. Hall and, furthermore, that Quest's negligence was a proximate cause of Ms. Hall's injuries. The underlying litigation was resolved in 2011. Brown settled the case for $6.5 million and now seeks contribution from Quest.

This Court issued a scheduling order requiring the parties to disclose experts. Both Brown and Quest have served answers to interrogatories disclosing expert witnesses and are presently in the process of deposing each other's experts. Brown disclosed Daniel J. Sullivan, M.D. (Dr. Sullivan) as an expert witness in the field of internal medicine. In response, Quest disclosed Mark D. Aronson, M.D. (Dr. Aronson), who is also a specialist in internal medicine. Generally, both Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Aronson are expected to testify regarding whether Brown's physician's assistant, Rita Shiff (Ms. Shiff), performed her duties within the applicable standard of care.

Dr. Sullivan is a member of the Health Care Associates Practice Group and a member of the Department of Medicine in the Division of General Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Sullivan is also an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Aronson is also a member of the Health Care Associates Practice Group and the Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine and Interim Chief of the Division of General Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Aronson is a Full Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Accordingly, Dr. Aronson holds certain positions at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School superior to those held by Dr. Sullivan.

Dr. Sullivan was deposed by Quest on December 18, 2014. During the deposition, Quest's attorney, Mark Dolan (Mr. Dolan), inquired as to whether Dr. Sullivan disagreed with some of Dr. Aronson's medical opinions and conclusions. Brown's attorney, William Dailey (Mr. Dailey), objected to this line of questioning and instructed Dr. Sullivan not to answer. The pertinent portions of the deposition transcript read:

"Q: Okay. Now, the fourth paragraph says, 'Doctor Aronson will testify that Ms. Hall's history and signs and symptoms required further work-up.' Do you see that?
"A: I do.
"Q: You disagree with that?
"Mr. Dailey: Well, I'm gonna object and instruct the witness not to answer. It's not for him to critique the expert testimony ...

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