Federal Court Orders Cross-Plaintiff in Car Crash Case to Undergo IME – McCormick v. Payne

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A car accident lawsuit involves three distinct phases:  pre-trial discovery, trial, and post-trial proceedings (including, in some cases, an appeal). During discovery, each party has an opportunity to discover facts and theories about the other’s case. The idea is that full disclosure will encourage settlement, and it often does.

However, although the ultimate goal may be a mutual agreement to end the litigation, the process is often contentious, involving many motions, hearings, and pre-trial orders.

Facts of the Case

In the case of McCormick v. Payne, the parties were involved in a motor vehicle collision in McKinney, Texas, in late 2013. One of the defendants filed a cross-complaint against the other two defendants, seeking compensation for injuries suffered in the collision. According to the cross-plaintiff, his “pelvis, knee, and body generally” were injured in the wreck. He sought damages for past and future medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and physical impairment. He also sought exemplary damages.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division, had diversity jurisdiction over the case.

The Cross-Defendants’ Motion

The cross-defendants filed a motion asking the court to require the cross-plaintiff to undergo an independent medical examination (IME). In deciding whether to grant the motion, the district court first reviewed Fed. R. Civ. Proc. 35(a), which grants the court authority to order a party to “produce for examination” a person who is under its legal control. The court also noted that the burden was on the party seeking the examination to show that there was good cause for the examination and that the examinee’s condition was in controversy. This can be accomplished through affidavits or other evidence.

The District Court’s Decision

In reviewing the evidence submitted by the cross-defendants, the court found that they had shown the level of “good cause” required under Rule 35(a). Thus, the court entered an order requiring the cross-plaintiff to submit to a medical examination by the expert retained by the cross-defendants. Specifically, the court found that the cross-plaintiff had placed his physical medical condition in controversy by alleging damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, impairment, disfigurement, and lost wages.

In so holding, the court also noted that the cross-plaintiff had already undergone examinations by several non-retained experts of his own choosing. Thus, to avoid prejudice, he should undergo an examination by the cross-defendant’s expert to rebut the findings of his own experts. Otherwise, according to the court, the cross-defendants would not be able to scrutinize the findings of the plaintiff’s experts.

For Help with a Car Accident Case in East Texas

If you have been involved in a wreck in east Texas, you need to talk to a lawyer about filing a claim as soon as possible. As this case shows, the litigation phase of an accident case can be lengthy and complex. In order to increase the odds of a fair recovery, it pays to have an experienced litigation professional on your side. To schedule a free case evaluation, call east Texas car accident attorney Earl Drott at (903) 531-9300 today. We serve clients throughout Smith County, Tyler, and the surrounding area.

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