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Peer Review Document Discoverable in Lawsuit Involving Prisoner’s Death

A Florida federal court ordered disclosure of a peer review document that concerned a prisoner’s death, holding the document is not privileged. The order requires the defendants, the Florida Department of Corrections and Prison Health Services, to provide the Memorandum Regarding Mortality Review in discovery.

The civil rights action in this case concerned the suicide death of Florida prisoner Aleshia Napier and was filed by her estate. It ultimately resulted in a $500,000 monetary settlement (See PLN, September 2011, pg. 33).

The defendants objected to releasing the document due to it being privileged. The Court held, citing established case law, that “[f]ederal law recognizes no privilege of peer review in the context of a case involving the death of a prisoner,” and that every federal appellate court to address such a claim has rejected it. The Court further held “the subject product does not qualify as work product because it was prepared in the ordinary course of business.” Finally, since there is no evidence it was made for the purpose of obtaining legal advice, the attorney client privilege does not apply. See: Napier v. Florida Department of Corrections, USDC, S.D. Florida, Case No. 09-61158.

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Related legal case

Napier v. Florida Department of Corrections