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In re POM Wonderful LLC

United States District Court, Tenth Circuit

January 29, 2014

In Re POM WONDERFUL, LLC, MARKETING AND SALES PRACTICE LITIGATION

Relating to an Action Pending in the Central District of California Case No. 2:10-ML-2199-DDP (RZx)

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Teresa J. James U.S. Magistrate Judge

Pending before the Court is the Motion to Quash and/or Modify Subpoena (ECF No. 1) filed by Plaintiff Anne Haynes. Defendant POM Wonderful, LLC (“Pom”) served a subpoena issued out of the District of Kansas on July 1, 2013 upon non-party Custodian of Records for Constance Irick, M.D., Haynes’s physician. The subpoena ordered the production of three categories of documents related to Haynes’s medical records. Haynes requests that the subpoena be either quashed entirely, or modified in relation to her deposition testimony. Pom opposes the relief requested by Haynes. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes that if Ms. Haynes files a statement by February 5, 2014, expressly stating that she will not adduce any evidence at trial as to her health, then the subpoena at issue will be quashed without further order of the Court. If, however, such a statement is not filed on or before February 5, 2014, then the Motion to Quash will be denied and the Motion to Modify will be granted.

I. BACKGROUND FACTS

Haynes is a member of a nationwide class comprised of all persons who, between October 2005 and September 2010, purchased one or more POM Wonderful 100% juice products. In the underlying class action, currently pending in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Plaintiffs allege that Pom’s advertising is false and/or misleading in violation of California’s False Advertising Law, Unfair Competition Law, and Consumers Legal Remedies Act.

At her deposition, Haynes testified that she purchased the juice because Pom advertised that it had “a lot of health benefits” including “mitigating high blood pressure.” Haynes also testified that the juice did not lower her blood pressure. Haynes further testified that she purchased the juice to “prevent cancer” because of a history of cancer in her family.

Category 1 of the subpoena requests all documents in the files of Haynes’s physician related to her medical care, “including but not limited to medical examinations, consultations, hospitalization, treatment, testing, surgery or counseling.” Category 2 requests “documents related to diagnosis, analysis, treatment, surgery, prescriptions, or any tests conducted by Dr. Irick, or which relate to Ms. Haynes [ ] both written and recorded.” In Category 3, the subpoena requests “(a)ny documents related to the billing of any medical examination, hospitalization, treatment, testing, surgery or counseling received by Ms. Haynes.”

II. ARGUMENTS ASSERTED FOR AND AGAINST QUASHING THE SUBPOENA

Haynes moves to quash the subpoena on the grounds that it seeks information that is irrelevant to the subject matter of this action. Specifically, she argues the subject matter of this action is whether Pom made false and/or misleading representations regarding the health-related benefits of its juice, as to which her personal medical records are irrelevant. She further argues that her right to privacy regarding her medical records outweighs any minimal relevancy of the information sought.

Alternatively, Haynes requests that the subpoena be modified, as it is overly broad. Specifically, she requests that the subpoena should be limited in scope to the conditions that she testified to at deposition as her reason for purchasing the juice.

Pom argues that the documents requested are relevant because Haynes placed her medical history at issue by claiming that she purchased the juice to treat her high blood pressure and to prevent cancer, but that the juice was not effective at doing so. Pom argues that if Haynes is claiming that the juice is not effective and did not provide her with the advertised health benefits, then Pom should be allowed to test her claims by examining her medical records to inquire into the truth of her allegations as to her medical conditions prior to using the juice, to see if her medical conditions or treatments affected the effectiveness of the juice, and to see if she received any health benefits from the juice. As such, Pom argues that Haynes’ medical records are relevant to the subject matter of this action.

Pom also argues that although Haynes states that her health is not at issue, she has refused to stipulate that she will not put her physical condition at issue or call as witnesses at trial any of her doctors. Thus, Pom argues that despite her assertions to the contrary in the motion, Haynes may yet attempt to raise issues regarding her health at trial, which could prejudice Pom if it is not allowed to obtain discovery related to her medical records.

III. APPLICABLE LAW

Fed. R. Civ. P. 45 governs motions to quash subpoenas. Subsections 45(c)(3)(A)(iii) and (iv) of the Rule requires the court issuing a subpoena to quash that subpoena in certain situations, including when the subpoena “(iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other protected matter, if no ...


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