Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Turney

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

June 15, 2017

IN RE AMBER TURNEY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF DAVID MINX (DECEASED), Relator

         ORIGINAL PROCEEDING WRIT OF MANDAMUS 61st District Court Harris County, Texas, Trial Court Cause No. 2016-64937

          Panel consists of Justices Boyce, Busby, and Wise.

          OPINION

          WILLIAM J. BOYCE JUSTICE.

         Relator is Amber Turney. Real Parties-in-Interest are Houston Motor Speedway Corp. d/b/a Houston Motorsports Park Houston Speedway Acquisition, LLC, John Thigpen, and Dean Baker (referred to collectively as the "Motor Speedway Defendants"). This suit arises from the death of David Minx, Sr. ("Decedent") in a single-vehicle collision while he was driving on a race track owned or operated by the Motor Speedway Defendants. Among other defenses, the Motor Speedway Defendants assert that the collision occurred because Decedent had an enlarged heart and suffered a heart attack while driving on the track at a high rate of speed.

         On December 9, 2016, the predecessor judge of the 61st District Court in Harris County ordered relator to sign and return a HIPAA medical authorization permitting the Motor Speedway Defendants to obtain Decedent's medical records for the five years prior to his death. The predecessor judge denied relator's motion to quash the Motor Speedway Defendants' depositions on written questions and subpoenas duces tecum, which requested Decedent's medical service providers to produce all of Decedent's medical records.

         Relator, Individually and as Representative of Decedent, filed a petition for writ of mandamus in this court on December 15, 2016. See Tex. Gov't Code Ann. § 22.221 (West 2004); see also Tex. R. App. P. 52. Relator argues that Decedent's medical records are protected by the physician-patient privilege, and therefore asks this court to compel the trial judge to: (1) vacate the Medical Authorization Order, and (2) to quash the Motor Speedway Defendants' depositions on written questions and subpoenas duces tecum. Alternatively, relator asks that we compel the trial judge to conduct an in camera review of Decedent's medical records to prevent the disclosure of privileged records.

         We abated the mandamus proceeding to allow the Honorable Fredericka Phillips, who became judge of the 61st District Court on January 1, 2017, to consider all issues and motions addressed in the Medical Authorization Order. On February 15, 2017, relator filed a motion for Judge Phillips to reconsider the Medical Authorization Order and the denial of relator's objections to the depositions and subpoenas, motion to quash, and motion for protective order. On March 15, 2017, Judge Phillips denied the motion to reconsider. Accordingly, we proceed with considering relator's petition for writ of mandamus.

         Decedent's medical records are protected by the physician-patient privilege to the extent that they contain confidential communications between a physician and the patient related to any services the physician rendered or contain information regarding the patient's identity, diagnosis, evaluation, or treatment. See Tex. R. Evid. 509(c). The patient-litigant exception to that privilege applies to medical records that are relevant to the condition of Decedent's heart because the Motor Speedway Defendants rely on Decedent's alleged heart condition as part of their defense. See Tex. R. Evid. 509(e)(4). Accordingly, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by ordering relator to sign an authorization permitting access to Decedent's medical records. The trial court did abuse its discretion by failing to (1) conduct an in camera review of the medical records sought by the Motor Speedway Defendants to determine which medical records, if any, are relevant to Decedent's alleged heart condition, and (2) limit discovery to those relevant records. We therefore deny in part and conditionally grant in part the petition for writ of mandamus.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         The Motor Speedway Defendants served depositions on written questions and subpoenas duces tecum on 12 medical service providers or pharmacies requesting the production of all medical and billing records for any medical treatment received by Decedent.

         Relator filed objections to the depositions and subpoenas, a motion to quash, and a motion for protective order. The Motor Speedway Defendants then filed a motion to compel relator to provide them with a signed medical authorization permitting the release of Decedent's medical records, and a response requesting that the trial court deny relator's objections, motion to quash, and motion for protective order.

         At the December 9, 2016 hearing of these motions, the trial court orally denied relator's objections to the depositions and subpoenas, motion to quash, and motion for protective order. The trial court also signed the Medical Authorization Order, which orders relator to sign and return a HIPAA medical authorization permitting the Motor Speedway Defendants to obtain of Decedent's medical records for the five years prior to his death.

         II. Mandamus Standard

         To obtain mandamus relief, a relator generally must show both that the trial court clearly abused its discretion and that the relator has no adequate remedy by appeal. In re Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 148 S.W.3d 124, 135-36 (Tex. 2004) (orig. proceeding). A trial court clearly abuses its discretion if it reaches a decision so arbitrary and unreasonable as to amount to a clear and prejudicial error of law or if it clearly fails to analyze the law correctly or apply the law correctly to the facts. In re Cerberus Capital Mgmt., L.P., 164 S.W.3d 379, 382 (Tex. 2005) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam). The appellate court reviews the trial court's application of the law de novo. See Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 840 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding). The relator must establish that the trial court could reasonably have reached only one conclusion. Id.

         While the scope of discovery is generally within the trial court's discretion, the trial court must impose reasonable discovery limits. In re Graco Children's Prods., Inc., 210 S.W.3d 598, 600 (Tex. 2006) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam). Discovery requests must be reasonably tailored to include only matters relevant to the case. See In re CSX Corp., 124 S.W.3d 149, 152 (Tex. 2003) (orig. proceeding) (per curiam); In re Am. Optical Corp., 988 S.W.2d 711, 713 (Tex. 1998) ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.