The Pennsylvania Superior Court, in Barrick v. Holy Spirit Hospital, has held that communications between counsel and their trial experts are discoverable. This ruling carries significant implications for both health care providers who act as expert witnesses and defense counsel.
The case involved an injury which occurred when Plaintiff’s chair collapsed in the hospital cafeteria. He sought treatment from an orthopedic surgeon, who later agreed to serve as his expert witness for trial. Defense counsel served a subpoena on Plaintiff seeking production of his complete “medical file.” Plaintiffs’ counsel produced treatment records, but objected to production of electronic mail and written correspondence between themselves and the orthopedic expert, citing the attorney work product privilege. Defendants filed a motion to compel. The Cumberland County Court conducted an in camera review of the correspondence, and subsequently directed its production. An appeal was immediately filed.