Perry v. City of New Haven
The identity of a health care provider and dates of treatment may not be protected by the patient-psychotherapist privilege. New Haven Police Officer Ronald Perry was denied a promotion to detective. Perry sued the City of New Haven, alleging discrimination on the basis of race, in violation of his right to equal protection under the 14th Amendment. The City of New Haven filed discovery requests and argued that Officer Perry's answers were incomplete or unresponsive. Generally, clients' fee arrangements with attorneys are not privileged, and the District Court ordered Officer Perry to describe his fee arrangement with his counsel, so that the defendant knows whether Officer Perry consented to an hourly fee or to a contingent fee. The court also ordered Officer Perry to provide an analysis of damages that includes medical expenses, if any, back pay, loss of earning capacity, emotional distress and damage to reputation. The damages analysis should describe the written evidence in support and witnesses who may be called to testify. The court ordered Officer Perry to describe medical treatment and diagnoses with respect to any claims of emotional distress and to disclose the names of doctors or counselors. Although Officer Perry objected that he has not waived the patient-psychotherapist privilege, the privilege does not extend to information about who, if anyone, provided treatment, the date of the treatment and the length of time of the treatment. "Facts regarding the very occurrence of psychotherapy, such as the dates of treatment, are not privileged," pursuant to Vanderbilt v. Town of Chilmark, a 1997 decision of the Massachusetts District Court. Here, the court ordered the plaintiff's attorney to pay reasonable expenses in connection with the defendant municipality's motion to compel, because counsel's approach to discovery frustrated the objective of "just, speedy and inexpensive" resolution of every cause of action in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 1.