Certain Medical Records Not Subject to Disclosure in Personal Injury Case

In James v. 1620 Westchester Ave. LLC, 2017 NY Slip Op 01303 (App. Div. 1st Dept. Feb. 21, 2017), a personal injury case, the court held that plaintiff was not required to disclose medical records relating to “alcohol and drug treatment, mental health information, and HIV-related information”, even though plaintiff asserted that she suffered from anxiety and mental anguish as a result of back and leg injuries.

The court, citing Public Health Law § 2785[2][a], Mental Hygiene Law §§ 33.13[c][1], 22.05[b], and case law, explained:

Defendants did not meet their burden of showing a “compelling need” for medical records concerning HIV; they failed to submit evidence that would establish a connection between plaintiff’s claimed HIV status and her future enjoyment of life. Similarly, defendants failed to meet their burden of showing that “the interests of justice significantly outweigh the need for confidentiality” such to permit discovery of mental health, alcohol abuse, or substance abuse records.

As the dissent notes, as a rule, all matter material and necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action should be fully disclosed. However, plaintiff’s alleged general anxiety and mental anguish from back and leg injuries do not place her entire mental and physical health into contention. She has not, as argued by the dissent, waived any protection applicable to such records. (Emphasis added.)

The court did, however, require exchange a report of a CT-scan of plaintiff’s cervical spine, since that was one of the areas of the body plaintiff alleged was injured in the subject accident.

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