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Streeter v. Goord

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


October 10, 2006

LEON STREETER, PLAINTIFF,
v.
GLENN S. GOORD, DOCS COMMISSIONER, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Randolph F. Treece United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER

On September 5, 2006, this Court issued an Order addressing a myriad of discovery issues. Dkt. No. 88. Among others, Plaintiff sought to compel the discovery of his mental health records. In resolving Plaintiff's Motion to Compel as it related to his mental health records, we noted that N.Y. MENTAL. HYG. LAW§ 33.16, standing alone, did not prohibit disclosure of the records in the course of the litigation. Id. at p. 3. Moreover, the statute is quite clear that a patient is a qualified person entitled to inspect or copy his mental records upon making a written request. N.Y. MENTAL HYG. LAW § 33.16(b). However, a patient's access to his mental health records can be limited if a medical practitioner has reviewed the records and determined that there would a substantial and immediate harm for the patient to see them. N.Y. MENTAL HYG. LAW § 33.16(c).*fn1 The record before the Court did not include a medical practitioner's opinion limiting Streeter's access to his mental health records. The same records indicate that Defendants found Streeter's medical records to be of no particular use to them. Dkt. No. 88, at p. 3.

Nonetheless, this Court ruled that "[it would] not order [a] blanket disclosure of the records until the Court has conducted an in camera review of the records to determine whether there is any information that is probative on Plaintiff's claims contained therein." Id. at p. 4. We also invited "Defendants . . . to provide the Court, togehter with the records, . . . any [] statements, signed by the medical service providers, setting forth any concerns they may have with respect to disclosure of the records or its potential impact on Plaintiff's well being." Id.

On October 5, 2006, Defendants provided Streeter's mental health records to this Court for an in camera review, however, there was no letter or statement from a medical provider RFT accompanying the records. Medical provider's statement notwithstanding, the Court conducted an in camera review of the records. See supra note 1. Our review of the records indicates that they have little, if any, probative value and thus are not germane to the subject matter of this litigation. Without further guidance from a medical provider that disclosure to Street should not occur, we also find that there is nothing within the medical records that in our view would cause him substantial and immediate harm if released to him. Although the records are not fertile with relevant information for Streeter's lawsuit, we find no reasonable basis to deny health records.

Accordingly, it is hereby Ordered, that the Defendants provide Streeter with a copy of his mental health records within ten (10) days of this Order; and it is further RFT him access to his mental Ordered, that Defendants make arrangements to retrieve from the Court's Chambers the copy of the records submitted for an in camera review; and it is further Ordered, that the Clerk of the Court serve a copy of this Order upon the parties to the action. It is so Ordered.


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