United States District Court, D. Arizona
AARON and BREANNE CHEATWOOD, individually and as Next Best Friend of D.C., a minor child, Plaintiffs,
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS SERVICES, et al., Defendants.
Russel Holland United States District Judge.
to Quash; Motion to Compel
Tri-State Care Flight, L.L.C. moves to quash Request Nos. 2
through 12 of a subpoena served upon it by defendant Sentinel
Air Medical Alliance. This motion is opposed and Sentinel
cross-moves to compel Tri-State to respond to Request Nos. 2
through 12, as modified by Sentinel. Sentinel's motion to
compel is opposed. Oral argument was requested but is not
are Aaron and Breanne Cheatwood, individually, and as next
best friend of D.C., a minor child. Defendants are Christian
Brothers Services (“CBS”); Christian Brothers
Employee Benefit Trust (“the Trust”); and
Sentinel Air Medical Alliance.
April 2015, D.C. was transported by a medical transport
helicopter from Yuma Regional Medical Center to Banner Cardon
Children's Medical Center in Mesa, Arizona. Tri-State is
the air ambulance company that transported D.C. to Mesa.
Tri-State billed plaintiffs $61, 566 for the air transport.
The Trust denied payment for the cost of the air transport,
allegedly based on an opinion it obtained from Sentinel that
the air transport was not medically necessary and that the
charges were not reasonable.
their amended complaint, plaintiffs assert breach of contract
and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing claims
against CBS and the Trust. Plaintiffs have alleged that CBS
and the Trust “acted unreasonably by relying upon the
opinion of Sentinel Air, an obviously biased and
anti-claimant medical reviewer, to deny [p]laintiffs'
claim.” Plaintiffs assert an aiding and abetting
claim against Sentinel based on allegations that Sentinel
aided and abetted CBS's and the Trust's breach of the
duty of good faith and fair dealing.
contends that plaintiffs have disclosed $61, 566 as special
damages, other unspecified “financial harm”, and
damages for mental and emotional distress. Sentinel contends
that plaintiffs are asserting that the outstanding bill from
Tri-State for the cost of the air transport has become a
threat to their credit rating. But, Sentinel contends that
plaintiffs have, so far, not produced any evidence to support
this assertion, and Sentinel contends that it is possible
that plaintiffs are not being pursued by Tri-State for
payment. Sentinel also contends that plaintiffs' claims
are based on a theory that Sentinel provides biased opinions
and that in developing this theory, plaintiffs have focused
on Sentinel's company mission, which is “to provide
solutions to effectively control rates and ensure proper
utilization for air transport services.” Sentinel contends
that in order to defend against plaintiffs' bias theory,
it will need to provide evidence of Tri-State's billing
October 17, 2017, Sentinel served a subpoena on Tri-State,
which contained twelve requests for documents. Request No. 1
sought Tri-State's records as they pertained to D.C. but
did not actually name D.C., instead referring only to a
“patient.” Although Request No. 1 indicated that
there was a release of information attached to the subpoena
that identified the patient,  no release of information was
attached. Request Nos. 2-12 sought commercial records and
contracts as they pertained to Tri-State's business
practices in Arizona. The compliance date stated on the
subpoena was November 7, 2017.
contends that prior to November 7, 2017, it informed Sentinel
that it could not comply with the subpoena without a patient
authorization form. Cheryl Brackney, a paralegal for
Tri-State, avers that “prior to November 7, 2017, I
contacted counsel for Sentinel, explaining that Tri-State
could not respond to the Sentinel Subpoena because there was
no patient-identifying information included. Additionally, I
told Sentinel that Tri-State could not provide the requested
information because the timeframe was too
broad.”Brackney further avers that “[o]ver
the next few weeks, I continued to exchange voicemails with
Sentinel's attorney regarding the lack of
patient-identifying information and Tri-State's concerns
regarding the scope of the request[s].”
counsel contends that she does not recall Brackney ever
mentioning in her voicemails that Tri-State believed the
subpoena was overbroad. Sentinel contends that it requested
that Tri-State comply with Request Nos. 2-12 pending receipt
of the patient authorization form. Brackney, however, avers
that “Sentinel never directed me to respond to requests
2 through 12 while we were discussing the problems with the
November 29, 2017, Sentinel provided the patient
authorization form to Tri-State. On December 14, 2017,
counsel for Tri-State and Sentinel met and conferred and
Tri-State agreed to respond to Request No. 1 and Sentinel
agreed to narrow the scope of Request Nos.
2-12. The modified requests are as follows:
Request No. 2: Those contracts and/or agreements with Yuma
Regional Medical Center regarding the provision of air
ambulance services to patients that were in effect between
Request No. 3: Those contracts and/or agreements with Banner
Desert Medical Center (the receiving hospital in this case)
that relate to the provision of air ambulance services and
that were in effect between 2014-2016.
Request No. 4: Those contracts and/or agreements that relate
to the charges/pricing for air ambulance services in Arizona
between Tristate and Medicaid in effect between 2014-2016.
Request No. 5: Documents related to marketing and/or business
development that were used to promote Tristate's air
ambulance services to Yuma Regional Medical Center and/or
Banner Desert Medical Center between 2014 and 2016. This
request includes, but is not limited to, flyers, brochures,
presentations, emails, and/or letters.
Request No. 6: Contracts and/or agreements between Tristate
and any insurance company and/or health care benefit
provider, including but not limited to any managed care
contracts, related to air ambulance services provided by
Tristate in Arizona in effect between 2014 and 2016.
Request No. 7: Written complaints and/or reviews against
Tristate for air ambulance services rendered in Arizona
between 2014-2016. This request does not seek private
information about patients, including patient names or other
private health information as defined by HIPAA, and the
documents produced in response to this request may be
redacted to conceal such information.
Request No. 8: A copy of all billed charges billed by
Tristate Careflight [to] patients traveling from Yuma
Regional Medical Center to Banner Desert Medical Center ...
for the years 2014 and 2015. This request does not seek
medical records, but simply the amounts charged, and any
patient identifying information may be redacted.
Request No. 9: All policies and procedures Tristate used to
deter- mine whether air transportation is considered to be
medically necessary that were in effect between 2014-2016.
Request No. 10: All policies and procedures that were in
effect between 2014-2016 related to billing patients for
services when those services/charges are not covered through
insurance and/or other health benefit plans or for
individuals who are not insured or who have no health plan
Request No. 11: Financial reports for air ambulance services
provided from bases in Arizona that show gross revenue, net
revenue, operating expenses, non-operating expenses and net
income for the years 2014-2016.
Request No. 12: Documents showing the following for years
2014- 2016: air ambulance charges, payments, payor
information, and contractual adjustments and write
requested that Tri-State notify it by December 19, 2017 as to
whether Tri-State would respond to the modified
requests. On December 19, 2017, Tri-State informed
Sentinel that it would not respond to Request Nos. 2-12, as
modified, because they were unduly burdensome and requested
confidential commercial information.
motion to quash Request Nos. 2-12 followed. Sentinel
responded to the motion to quash by filing a motion to compel
Tri-State to respond to Request Nos. 2-12. These two motions
are now ready for disposition.
Rule of Civil Procedure 45 governs discovery of nonparties by
subpoena.” ATS Products, Inc. v. Champion
Fiberglass, Inc., 309 F.R.D. 527, 530 (N.D. Cal. 2015).
Rule 45(d)(3)(A) provides, in pertinent part, that
[o]n timely motion, the court for the district where
compliance is required must quash or modify a subpoena that:
* * * (iii) requires disclosure of privileged or other
protected matter, if no exception ...