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Centennial Psychiatric Associates, LLC v. Cantrell

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District

December 21, 2017

CENTENNIAL PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATES, LLC, MICHELLE DAHL, N.P., ROBERT JACK, M.D., AND MICHAEL MURPHY, M.D., Appellants
v.
RYAN CANTRELL, Appellee IN RE CENTENNIAL PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATES, LLC, MICHELLE DAHL, N.P., ROBERT JACK, M.D., AND MICHAEL MURPHY, M.D.,

         On Appeal from the 164th District Court, Harris County, Texas Trial Court Cause No. 2017-16896 ORIGINAL PROCEEDING WRIT OF MANDAMUS

          Panel consists of Justices Christopher, Brown, and Wise.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          MARC W. BROWN, JUSTICE.

         A Tennessee trial court issued a commission permitting Centennial Psychiatric Associates, LLC, Michelle Dahl, N.P., Robert Jack, M.D., and Michael Murphy, M.D. (collectively, "Centennial") to obtain discovery from Ryan Cantrell in Texas. After Centennial served a subpoena in Texas seeking documents from Ryan, Ryan filed an original petition with the Texas trial court. Ryan moved to quash the commission and the subpoena and to prohibit Centennial from seeking any discovery from himself or his wife. Ryan also requested sanctions for Centennial's alleged discovery abuse. The trial court quashed the commission and subpoena, sanctioned Centennial $10, 000 for discovery abuse, and prohibited any discovery whatsoever from Ryan or his wife. Centennial filed this appeal and petition for writ of mandamus. On its own motion, this court consolidated Centennial's appeal and original proceeding.

         We determine that the Texas trial court abused its discretion in quashing the commission and subpoena, sustaining objections to the fifth request attached to the subpoena, and issuing sanctions. Therefore, we reverse and vacate this portion of the trial court's order. We affirm the trial court's order sustaining Ryan's objections to the other requests attached to the subpoena. We deny Centennial's petition for writ of mandamus as moot.

         I. Background

         Centennial provided healthcare to Ryan Cantrell's brother, Daniel Cantrell. In 2014, Daniel had a psychotic episode during which he stabbed his father to death. Daniel was criminally prosecuted for the murder of his father. Ryan assisted with Daniel's criminal defense. Daniel's criminal defense attorney, David Raybin, obtained a forensic image of Ryan's cellphone to assist in Daniel's defense.[1] Ryan prepared a 20 page narrative which included information concerning his communications with Daniel and others, Daniel's condition, and Daniel's past episodes going back to 2007. Daniel was acquitted.

         After the acquittal, Daniel and his mother, Deborah O'Daniel Cantrell, filed suit against Centennial in Tennessee, alleging that the incident was caused by Centennial's medical negligence.[2] In December 2016, Centennial sought a commission from the Tennessee trial court to subpoena the deposition of and documents from Ryan Cantrell in Texas. The proposed commission did not attach a proposed subpoena.

         On December 16, 2016, the Tennessee court held a two-hour hearing on a separate issue, Ryan's cellphone image. The Tennessee court had previously ordered Raybin to produce a copy of the image to Centennial, but Ryan sought a protective order to limit the production. Ultimately, the Tennessee court denied Ryan's request for a protective order, concluding that because Ryan was not a party, he did not have standing to ask for a protective order preventing production of the cellphone image.

         Although the December 16, 2016 hearing was not intended to address Centennial's application for the commission, Ryan's counsel raised the issue in the midst of argument concerning Ryan's cellphone image. Ryan's counsel encouraged the Tennessee court to enter the commission in the following discussion:

Mr. Grams [Ryan's counsel]: If [Centennial] believe[s] [the production] doesn't comply with the request, they've got other options to go through, with a motion to compel, or they can ask him in his deposition and follow up, you know, after the deposition with either a motion to compel or additional requests.
. . .
The Court: And no deposition has been taken yet?
Mr. Grams: No deposition has been taken.
And, in fact, Your Honor, there's-there's really an easy way to-to resolve this all too.
You know, defense counsel has applied for a commission-
The Court: I saw that.
Mr. Grams: -to Texas to subpoena Mr. Cantrell for a deposition. But they also intend to subpoena emails that he has that predate, you know, the image that's on the phone. So this [cellphone] image is really about thirteen months, from March 2013 to April of 2014.
The Court: And that's the image that attorney David Raybin-
Mr. Grams: Right.
The Court: -prepared?
Mr. Grams: Right.
The Court: And-for his defense in the criminal case?
Mr. Grams: Correct.
So they already intend to go to Texas and get a subpoena for emails that he may have elsewhere on a personal computer or something that Mr. Cantrell used to provide other information to Mr. Raybin.
The Court: Now, while you're talking about that, my assistant just showed me the order. It's not an agreed order, and under our local rules, I hold an order for three days-
Mr. Grams: Right.
The Court: -pending possibility of a competing order. The third day I think will be up Monday, and I'll be here Monday, and I'll sign that order Monday, unless you want me to sign it earlier. Or do y'all care?
Mr. Grams: No, I mean, at this point, that's what we want, Your Honor.
The Court: Okay.
Mr. Grams: We want-we want Mr. Cantrell to have the protections that are provided by the rules of civil procedure that should have been done way back when this whole issue of the image started. We want them to subpoena-to issue that subpoena so that, you know, he can have the protection of the rules of civil procedure, so . . .
The Court: So I'll go ahead and sign it?
Mr. Grams: Yeah.
The Court: All right. Good.
Mr. Grams: Yeah, that's . . .
The Court: I'll sign it when-
Mr. Haubenreich [Centennial's counsel]: There was no objection from the parties, Mr. Clayton and Mr. Cummings and Mr. Manookian.
The Court: Yeah, I saw there was no objection, there just couldn't be any agreement.
Mr. Haubenreich: My understanding was they wanted to be real careful that they-
The Court: Yes.
Mr. Haubenreich: -weren't waiving anything.
The Court: I understand.
Mr. Haubenreich: They said we don't-right, we don't oppose it, a little worried about agreeing to it. I said, that's fine. That's why ...

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