California Appellate Court Denies Defense Discovery Request in Workplace Accident Lawsuit

Earlier this year, the California Court of Appeal for the Sixth District issued an interesting opinion in a California workplace accident case. The case presented the court with the opportunity to discuss the limitations that a defendant faces when seeking pre-trial discovery in a California personal injury case. Ultimately, the court concluded that the defendant’s requested discovery was beyond the scope of what was included under the relevant statute, and the request was rejected.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a delivery driver who was scheduled to unload several packages at Stanford University. While he was unloading the packages, a car that had been parked by a Stanford employee rolled down a nearby hill and collided with the plaintiff. He sustained multiple fractures to his right femur and pelvis, and he underwent surgery as a result.

By the following year, the plaintiff had not returned to work and filed a personal injury lawsuit against several parties, including Stanford University, the owner of the vehicle that struck him, as well as the person who parked the vehicle. In a pre-trial motion, several of the defendants filed a motion seeking to compel the plaintiff to undergo a “vocational rehabilitation examination” conducted by one of the defendants’ expert witnesses.

The trial court granted the defendants’ request over the plaintiff’s objection. The expert reported that the plaintiff’s injuries had healed and that there was nothing keeping him from returning to work. The plaintiff filed for a writ of mandate with the California Court of Appeal to prevent the trial court’s ruling.

The Appellate Decision

The appellate court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, finding that the request to compel the plaintiff to undergo a vocational rehabilitation examination conducted by one of the defendants’ experts was not within the scope of permissible discovery. The court explained that its power to compel discovery is derived from state statute. Here, the court noted, the relevant statute, Section 2019.010, authorizes several permissible methods of discovery, including depositions, interrogatories, inspections of documents, physical and mental examinations, requests for admissions, and expert witness information.

The court read the plain language of the statute and determined that the nonphysical vocational rehabilitation examination was not an authorized method of discovery. Thus, the court determined that the trial court was improper to require the plaintiff to submit to the examination over his objection. As a result of the court’s ruling, the defendants’ expert’s report will not be permitted to be used in the plaintiff’s case for damages.

Have You Been Injured in a California Workplace Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of California workplace accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through one of several different cases. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, either a California workers’ compensation case or a California personal injury case may be appropriate. The skilled California personal injury and workers’ compensation attorneys at Sharifi Firm have significant experience handling both workers’ compensation and personal injury claims on behalf of their injured clients, and they know what it takes to be successful in California courts. Call 822-422-7222 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Employer Not Vicariously Liable for Employee’s Negligence in Causing Fatal Car Crash, Due to “Going and Coming” Rule, According to California Appellate Court, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, March 2, 2017

California Court Reverses Summary Judgment in Favor of Employer When Inference Could be Drawn that Employee Was Within Scope of Employment at Time Plaintiff was Injured, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, September 28, 2017

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