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Mount Sinai School of Medicine v. American Tobacco Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
880 F.2d 1520 (2d Cir. 1989)


Facts

American Tobacco Co. (defendant) and several other tobacco companies were named as defendants in multiple product liability lawsuits, in which the plaintiffs claimed that their decedents died of lung cancer as a result of the combination of cigarette smoking and exposure to asbestos. The defendant tobacco companies, based on their belief that the plaintiffs intended to rely on a well-known paper describing medical findings of a tobacco use and asbestos exposure study written by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine (Mount Sinai) (plaintiff), issued a subpoena to gain access to all of the documents the study relied on to come to its conclusion. Mount Sinai moved to quash the first set of subpoenas (Page subpoenas), served in connection with Page v. Lincoln Electric Co., Inc. (1986), because they were too broad. The court granted the motion through its holding in In re R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 518 NYS 2d 729 (1987) (Reynolds), finding that the subpoenas were sweeping and indiscriminate, and that complying with the subpoenas would be oppressive to Mount Sinai. Shortly after the holding in Reynolds, the tobacco companies issued a second set of subpoenas seeking the same study information in connection with two additional, similar product liability lawsuits. These subpoenas were more precise, and allowed for the redaction of confidential information. Mount Sinai again moved to quash, alleging res judicata, collateral estoppel, and scholar/expert privilege. It also moved for a protective order on the material. The court granted the protective order but denied the motion to quash, and Mount Sinai appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Kearse, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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