Mediation Privilege Recognized, Applied in Eastern District Suit
In the first Eastern District of Pennsylvania decision to recognize and apply a "mediation privilege" under federal common law, a U.S. magistrate has ordered plaintiffs' lawyers in a healthcare antitrust case to return mediation documents they obtained in discovery from a third party. The magistrate found that the question of whether to recognize privilege is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 501 and the U.S. Supreme Court's 1996
By Shannon P. Duffy|November 17, 2003 at 12:00 AM
Thank you for sharing!
Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
In the first Eastern District of Pennsylvania decision to recognize and apply a “mediation privilege” under federal common law, U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles B. Smith has ordered plaintiffs’ lawyers in a healthcare antitrust case to return mediation documents they obtained in discovery from a third party. “As almost all 50 states have elected to protect confidential mediation proceedings to facilitate settlement of cases, our refusal to recognize a similar federal privilege would frustrate their efforts to establish an expectation of privacy,” Smith wrote in his 15-page opinion in Chester County Hospital v. Independence Blue Cross. In the suit, CCH alleges that IBC and its subsidiaries “used anti-competitive tactics and agreements to amass and secure monopoly and monopsony power in the sale of health benefits and in the purchase of hospital services.” About 75 percent of the populace in the Philadelphia area is insured by IBC and its subsidiaries, the suit alleges, including most of CCH’s patients. “Rather than acting in the best interests of consumers and the community the hospital serves, the defendants have abused their monopoly and monopsony power by unconscionably suppressing reimbursement to the hospital while at the same time forcing consumers and employers to pay higher premiums,” the suit alleges. But IBC responded with counterclaims, alleging that CCH filed the suit 19 months into a five-year contract because it was hoping to cut a better deal. CCH claims in its suit that it lost $8.5 million in 2001 for care provided to IBC members. But IBC alleges in its counterclaim that CCH’s current financial woes are the result of an overly ambitious expansion plan. The discovery dispute arose when CCH’s lawyers — Lewis R. Olshin, Wayne A. Mack and J. Manly Parks of Duane Morris — obtained documents from the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association that related to a prior dispute between IBC and BCBSA. Among the documents were several “position papers” that IBC had created for use in a mediation with BCBSA. The prior dispute related to the “BlueCard.Program,” a national provider network that guarantees access to medical services for its subscribers from providers in another Blue Plan local network. The dispute between IBC and BCBSA centered on a change in the access fee that a “host plan” can charge a “home plan” for using its provider network. Under the terms of IBC’s license agreement with the BCBSA, the dispute triggered a mandatory mediation clause. Smith found that the mediation agreement provided that the proceedings were confidential and required both sides to execute a “stipulation of confidentiality,” which prohibited “future use of settlement offers, all position papers or other statements furnished to the selected mediators, and the decision or recommendations in any mediation proceeding.” The agreement also said that the mediation documents were to be returned or destroyed at the conclusion of the proceedings, Smith found. In December 2002, CCH served a document subpoena on BCBSA, which responded by producing documents that included IBC’s position papers in the mediation. Asserting the mediation privilege IBC’s lawyers — Thomas A. Leonard, Paul S. Diamond, William J. Leonard, William K. Pelosi and H. David Seidman of Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel — asked Smith to issue an order compelling BCBSA to return the documents and certify the destruction of any electronic or other copies of those documents. They also asked that CCH be precluded from using them in any litigation. But CCH’s lawyers argued that the mediation privilege should not be recognized, and even if it were, it should not apply to protect IBC’s position papers. They also argued that IBC had waived the right to invoke the privilege and that the “crime-fraud exception” precluded its application. Smith found that the question of whether to recognize a privilege is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 501 and the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1996 decision in Jaffee v. Redmond, which established a four-prong test for determining the applicability of federal common law evidentiary privileges. Under Jaffee, Smith found, judges must consider whether:
This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.
To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.
LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.
ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.
A healthy work-life balance is becoming less about separation and more about integration. Having remote access and flexible hours can help us get more done in a day, while also keeping more of our personal commitments.
Discover how to avoid the consequences of ineffective Information Governance including difficulty complying with data privacy regulations, like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and handling e-discovery and other legal matters.
With this subscription you will receive unlimited access to high quality, online, on-demand premium content from well-respected faculty in the legal industry. This is perfect for attorneys licensed in multiple jurisdictions or for attorneys that have fulfilled their CLE requirement but need to access resourceful information for their practice areas.
Our Team Account subscription service is for legal teams of four or more attorneys. Each attorney is granted unlimited access to high quality, on-demand premium content from well-respected faculty in the legal industry along with administrative access to easily manage CLE for the entire team.
Gain access to some of the most knowledgeable and experienced attorneys with our 2 bundle options! Our Compliance bundles are curated by CLE Counselors and include current legal topics and challenges within the industry. Our second option allows you to build your bundle and strategically select the content that pertains to your needs. Both options are priced the same.
Dynamically explore and compare data on law firms, companies, individual lawyers, and industry trends.
Exclusive Depth and Reach.
Legal Compass includes access to our exclusive industry reports, combining the unmatched expertise of our analyst team with ALM’s deep bench of proprietary information to provide insights that can’t be found anywhere else.
Big Pictures and Fine Details
Legal Compass delivers you the full scope of information, from the rankings of the Am Law 200 and NLJ 500 to intricate details and comparisons of firms’ financials, staffing, clients, news and events.
As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters.
Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss.
Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.