A United States Magistrate Judge in the Middle District of Florida has recommended that Halifax Hospital Medical Center (“Halifax”) be sanctioned for “reprehensible” discovery abuses. According to the Report and Recommendation, despite having instituted a litigation hold, Halifax destroyed three years of short stay medical records that were relevant to the case, brought pursuant to the False Claims Act and Stark Act. Further, upon receiving a request for the records, Halifax not only failed to promptly inform the Relator that the records had been destroyed; it actually gave the Relator the false impression that it had produced the destroyed records. Although the judge had previously ruled that the destruction of medical records was not willful, and that the information was available from an alternative source, the judge found that Halifax had “wrongly, and without substantial justification delayed the production of relevant information to Relator.” He recommended that the Court order Halifax to pay all of the Relator’s attorney’s fees and any other expenses reasonably incurred in attempting to obtain the records and ESI.
For more information, see Case 6:09-cv-01002-GAP-TBS (US ex. rel. and ELIN BAKLID-KUNZ, Relator v. HALIFAX HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENTER)