In a last hail Mary attempt I loaded PhotoRec inside of partition magic on the laptop the hdd came from. I booted partition magic without the problematic hdd installed (as I was unable to load any bootable applications with it installed). When I had PhotoRec running I had it scan for available drives and seemed to have proper functionality. I hot plugged the hdd directly into the sata port and PhotoRec scanned for drives. Problem hdd showed up and I am finally able to procure tangible/readable files.
I would like to find some source for this particular hdd's firmware as I plan to use dd to wipe it. If anyone has a good hard disk firmware resource I would be much obliged it they'd share.