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St. Luke Institute, Inc. v. Jones

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

September 12, 2019

ST. LUKE INSTITUTE, INC.
v.
ANDRE JONES

          Circuit Court for Prince George's County Case No. CAL18-40657

          Meredith, Shaw Geter, Salmon, James P. (Retired Judge, Specially Assigned), JJ.

          OPINION

          Shaw Geter, J.

         This appeal arises from an order of the Circuit Court for Prince George's County requiring that St. Luke Institute, Inc., appellant, produce the mental health records of Brother Edward Anthony Holmes to the Superior Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 2017, Andre Jones, appellee, brought a civil lawsuit, currently pending in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, naming the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston and the Congregation of Sacred Hearts as defendants. The suit alleged that Jones, as a minor, was repeatedly sexually assaulted and sexually abused by Brother Holmes between 1978 and 1982. The allegations include causes of action for negligent hiring and negligent supervision of Holmes. During discovery in that lawsuit, it became known that Brother Holmes underwent psychotherapy at St. Luke Institute in the early 1990's.

         Jones filed with the circuit court a motion requesting the court order St. Luke Institute to produce Brother Holmes' mental health records. St. Luke Institute filed a motion in opposition. The circuit court issued a memorandum opinion and order directing St. Luke Institute to transfer Brother Holmes' entire mental health record under seal to the Clerk of the Massachusetts Superior Court.

         St. Luke Institute then moved the circuit court to reconsider its ruling and vacate the order or, alternatively, to stay the order pending appeal. The circuit court denied St. Luke Institute's motion. St. Luke Institute noted this appeal, and presents the following questions for our review, which we have rephrased and consolidated for convenience:[1]

1) Did the circuit court err or abuse its discretion in ordering St. Luke Institute to produce Brother Holmes' mental health records?
2) Did the circuit court err in ordering Brother Holmes' entire mental health record be filed under seal to the Superior Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?
3) How does a Maryland trial court determine what confidential information is to be released when requested in discovery?

         BACKGROUND

         A. The Underlying Massachusetts Action.

         In 2017, Andre Jones filed a civil lawsuit (the "Massachusetts Action"), as lead plaintiff, in the Massachusetts Superior Court, Trial Division (the "Massachusetts Court"), naming as defendants the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston and the Congregation of Sacred Hearts.[2] The Massachusetts Action alleges, in part, that Jones, as a minor, after having been removed from the custody of his parents and placed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the Nazareth Child Care Center in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts ("Nazareth") and while a Nazareth resident, suffered repeated sexual assault and abuse by Brother Holmes, a Nazareth counselor.[3] The complaint included causes of action for negligent hiring and negligent supervision of Holmes.

         Documents produced in discovery by the Congregation of Sacred Hearts noted that Brother Holmes had underwent psychotherapy at St. Luke Institute, Inc. ("SLI") in the early 1990's. SLI, located in Maryland, is a "Catholic organization with 40 years of experience treating Catholic clergy" and "offers a full range of psychological screening, treatment and education services for catholic clergy." According to the documents produced by the Congregation of Sacred Hearts, two psychiatric evaluation reports on Brother Holmes were written by SLI employees, respectively dated June 28, 1991 and November 8, 1993.

         The produced documents highlighted and summarized a "caution" contained in the 1993 report generated by SLI, stating, "There are no reported signs that [Brother Holmes] has been sexually inappropriate. However, we would caution [Holmes] and his order: there are many signs of risk that should not be lightly dismissed." The report also noted that Holmes "[h]a[d] not worked through his experience of being molested as a child."

         After the existence of the 1991 and 1993 reports became known to Jones, he requested that the reports and associated records be produced by the named parties. Jones was informed that the mental health evaluation reports had been destroyed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston and the Congregation of Sacred Hearts in the early 2000's.

         In 2006, Brother Holmes' abuse of minors at Nazareth became public knowledge. He was arrested, charged, and pled guilty to seventeen counts involving sexual assault of minors while they were residents at Nazareth. On April 6, 2011, Brother Holmes died.

         B. The Action in the Circuit Court.

         Jones, pursuant to a Letter of Rogatory of the Massachusetts Court, sought a subpoena from the Circuit Court for Prince George's County requesting SLI produce Brother Holmes' mental health records. SLI opposed the motion, arguing that the subpoena was improperly before the court ...


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