Discrimination Plaintiff Seeking Emotional Distress Damages Must Submit to Mental Examination, First Dept. Holds

In¬†Clark v. Allen & Overy, LLP, 2015 NY Slip Op 01398, 125 AD3d 497 (App. Div. 1st Dept. Feb. 17, 2015), the Appellate Division, First Department affirmed the lower court’s order granting defendant law firm’s motion to compel plaintiff to submit to a mental examination. (I wrote about a development in this case here.)

The court wrote:

Following the termination of her employment as a senior attorney in defendant’s Moscow office, plaintiff commenced this action asserting causes of action for, among other things, sexual harassment, retaliatory discharge, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She alleges that defendant caused her to suffer “extreme mental and physical anguish” and “severe anxiety,” and seeks to recover $15 million for emotional distress damages. Although plaintiff denies that defendant’s actions caused any diagnosed psychiatric condition and does not anticipate presenting an expert in support of her emotional distress claims, she testified at her deposition that her emotional distress has included experiencing eczema all over her body, hair pulling, anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings. Under these circumstances, the court providently exercised its discretion in determining that defendant had demonstrated that plaintiff had placed her mental condition “in controversy” by alleging unusually severe emotional distress, so that a mental examination by a psychiatrist is warranted to enable defendant to rebut her emotional distress claims.¬†Although plaintiff asserts that an examination would be unduly intrusive into private matters, she did not propose conditions or seek a protective order limiting the scope or extent of the examination.

It is not clear whether and to what extent plaintiff would have been able to limit the examination via a motion for a protective order.

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