December 2, 2020

DOCUMENT: Former nurse anesthesia student requests documents in lawsuit, Webster University denied request

Tiffany Neustaedter, former Webster University nurse anesthesia student, alleged Webster University failed to produce documents and records concerning her dismissal from the nurse anesthesia program in December 2010.

Jill Stulce, nurse anesthesia program director and assistant professor, and David Wilson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, were questioned at the office of Andrew Kuhlmann, Neustaedter’s attorney. They were questioned on Nov. 28 and Dec. 13, respectively, as part of the lawsuit.

The lawsuit stated Kuhlmann participated in the questioning of Wilson and Stulce.  Brian Cave LLC attorneys Jared Boyd and Michael Burke represented the university at the time. Boyd and Burke also represented Wilson, Stulce and Gary Clark, former Webster nurse anesthesia professor, in the lawsuit.

Neustaedter was nine weeks and one credit hour from completion of the degree program when the university dismissed her, according to the lawsuit. She started the program in 2008. At the time, she had been a registered nurse for 14 years.

Neustaedter’s lawsuit alleged that a personal relationship between her and Garrett Bergfeld, a biological sciences associate professor, led to her dismissal. The lawsuit states their relationship began in summer 2009.

Clark retired at the end of the 2011-12 academic year, according to a post on Webster Today, the university’s blog.
Dennis Donnelly, Brian Cave LLC attorney, has since replaced Boyd and Burke as Webster’s lead counsel in the lawsuit. Donnelly declined commenting on the lawsuit while it is in litigation.

Neustaedter sued the university, as well as Wilson, Stulce and Clark, in March 2012 for a total of $100,000 on four counts and $2 million in punitive damages. The counts include breach of contract, fraudulent misrepresentation, negligent misrepresentation and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.

Neustaedter and Kuhlmann filed for a motion to compel on Sept. 21, 2012. Judge Kristine Kerr has yet to approve or deny the motion.

A settlement conference is scheduled for Sept. 4, 2013. Kuhlmann is on vacation until the end of March and could not be contacted.
On April 25, 2012, Kuhlmann sent Webster and the other defendants a list of 30 “interrogatories and request for production of documents and things.” An interrogatory is “a set of written questions to a party to a lawsuit asked by the opposing party as part of the pre-trial discovery process,”, as defined by dictionary.law.com. The interrogatories requested by Neustaedter from Webster included her:

—Academic and student records.
—Clinics.
—Evaluations by professors and supervisors.
—Transcripts.
—Suspensions.
—Disciplinary warnings.
—Procedures of dismissal from the program from past cases.

Webster replied with a general objection to all 30 requests on Aug. 8.

“Defendant objects to each request to the extent it seeks documents and/or information subject to the attorney-client privilege, immune for discovery pursuant to the attorney work product doctrine, or otherwise protected from discovery by other applicable laws, privileges and/or doctrines,” stated Webster’s general objection to Neustaedter’s request.

Webster also objected to multiple document requests and stated such requests were “a fishing expedition for records that have no apparent connection whatsoever to the allegations set forth.”

On Sept. 13, Kuhlmann sent an email requesting that Webster remove its objections to the interrogatories sent on April 25. He specifically requested for documents concerning the decision making process of Neustaedter’s dismissal, clinical evaluations and policies used in the past five years on disciplinary procedures in the nurse anesthesia program.

Neustaedter Case Documents by WebsterJournal

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