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Gureghian v. Hackensack Hospital

Decided: February 19, 1970.

CATHERINE GUREGHIAN, ETC., ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
HACKENSACK HOSPITAL, ET AL, DEFENDANTS



Breslin, J.d.c. (temporarily assigned).

Breslin

[109 NJSuper Page 144] This matter arises out of an application by the plaintiff for an order to compel defendant Hackensack Hospital to produce a report

of the Perinatal Mortality Committee of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Plaintiff's request for a copy of the report, made pursuant to R. 4:17-1, was not complied with and this motion followed.

The instant cause of action sounds in negligence, based upon various breaches of duty and malpractices allegedly committed by the several defendants during the course of childbirth, causing injuries to the mother and injuries to and the death of the infant. The report in question was prepared more than one month after the infant's death by said committee and noted facts, cause of death and autopsy findings concerning the infant. The matters set forth in the report are not, however, confined to the subject of the infant. Apparently, the report is a monthly summary of infant deaths at or shortly after delivery and as such contains statistics of five other infant mortalities. The report is not part of the patient's record and was not made during the course of treatment by a treating physician.

(The movant does not state whether his papers are brought pusuant to R. 4:18-1 or R. 4:17-5. However, since a determination of this dispute is governed by considerations applicable to both rules, see comment to R. 4:17-5, I will treat the application as having been introduced in accordance with the provisions of R. 4:18-1).

R. 4:18-1 states, in part:

On motion by any party, for good cause shown and upon notice to all other parties * * * the court may order any party to produce and permit the moving party * * * to inspect and copy or photograph any designated books, papers * * *, not privileged, which constitute or contain evidence relating to any of the matters within the scope of the examination permitted by R. 4:10-2 and which are in his possession * * *.

R. 4:10-2 states:

The broadest possible latitude should be accorded pretrial discovery. Myers v. St. Francis Hospital , 91 N.J. Super. 377, 15 A.L.R. 3d 1432 (App. Div. 1966). This liberal spirit of discovery must be borne in mind whenever the court determines whether good cause for the discovery of documents is shown.

In Lakewood Trust Co. of Lakewood v. Fidelity & Deposit Co. , 81 N.J. Super. 329 (Law Div. 1963), the court held:

What will constitute good cause is a flexible matter and must be determined * * * in each case on its own merits. * * *

Generally, inspection orders should issue upon a showing that the desired inspection of the document or other property is relevant to the subject matter of the pending action and will aid the moving party in the preparation of his case, * * * [at 339]

The test of relevancy has been stated as being whether the subject matter sought to be discovered is useful. Myers ...


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