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Doe v. District of Columbia

July 21, 2005

JOHN DOE, A MINOR, THROUGH NEXT FRIEND, BOB DOE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: John M. Facciola United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM ORDER

This case was referred to me by Judge Kessler to resolve all discovery disputes. Currently pending and ready for resolution is Defendant's Motion to Order John Doe to Submit to an Independent Medical Examination ("Def.'s Mot.") [#173]. For the reasons stated herein, it is, hereby, ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff John Doe, a minor child, alleges, through his next friend Bob Doe, that he was physically and sexually abused while in the care and control of the District of Columbia, in violation of defendant's duties under the United States Constitution, federal law, and District of Columbia law. In particular, plaintiff brings claims of negligence and of civil rights violations under the Fifth Amendment and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff claims that he suffered and continues to suffer physical, emotional, and mental pain, suffering, and anguish due to the negligence of the District of Columbia and its agents. Complaint at ¶¶ 115-123, 125-139, 183- 194. In a separate cause of action related to the instant case, allegations that plaintiff's biological mother and father abused and neglected him are at issue. Def.'s Mot. at 1. Plaintiff has received evaluation and therapy for his emotional suffering allegedly resulting from the parental abuse and neglect incident as well as the incidents of alleged abuse central to this case. Id.

On April 27, 2005, defendant requested production of the minor child for the purposes of conducting a mental examination, to be performed on July 9 and July 22, 2005, by Nicole Alford, PhD, a licensed, clinical forensic psychologist at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, 409 E Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. Id. at 3. Plaintiff's counsel informed defendant on May 3, 2005 that she would not produce the minor child, necessitating defendant's filing of the instant motion for independent medical examination ("IME") on May 19, 2005. Id. Defendant asserted that plaintiff's complaint by itself placed the minor child's mental condition in controversy and established good cause to have him submitted for IME. Id. at 2. In response, on May 31, 2005, plaintiff filed his Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiff's Opposition to the District of Columbia's Motion to Order John Doe to Submit to an Independent Medical Examination ("Pl.'s Opp'n"), in which he asserted that defendant failed to show good cause because the information defendant seeks is already available from other sources. Finally, on June 10, 2005, defendant filed Defendant District of Columbia's Reply to Plaintiff's Opposition to Its Motion to Have John Doe to Submit to an Independent Medical Examination ("Def.'s Reply"), in which it reasserted that John Doe's mental condition is in controversy and that good cause exists because the information defendant seeks, namely, the nature and extent of the injuries that resulted from the incidents alleged in this litigation, is not available from other sources.

II. DISCUSSION

Defendant filed this motion for an IME pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("Rule") 35(a).

A. Legal Standard

When moving for an IME under Rule 35(a), the movant must establish that the "mental or physical condition . . . is in controversy" and that there is "good cause" for the motion to be granted and the party to be submitted for an IME. Fed. R. Civ. P. 35(a). "A plaintiff in a negligence action who asserts a mental or physical injury places that mental or physical injury clearly in controversy and provides the defendant with good cause for an examination to determine the existence and extent of such asserted injury." Schlagenhauf v. Holder, 379 U.S. 104, 119 (1964) (citation omitted). In some situations, the pleadings alone may place the condition in controversy. Id.

The standard for "good cause" is not as clear because "what may be good cause for one type of examination may not be so for another." Id. The movant's ability to obtain the desired information by means other than an IME is also relevant to the "good cause" analysis. Id. When the submission of a party to an IME is contested, granting the order to submit to the examination is not a matter of right but is left to the sound discretion of the trial court. Smith v. Koplan, 215 F.R.D. 11, 12 (D.D.C. 2003) (citations omitted).

In addition to the "in controversy" and "good cause" requirements, Rule 35(a) demands that the movant "specify the time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the examination and the person or persons by whom it is to be made." Fed. R. Civ. P. 35(a).

B. "In Controversy"

As the Supreme Court indicated in Schlagenhauf, the pleadings alone may meet the "in controversy" requirement. Schlagenhauf, 379 U.S. at 119. Plaintiff has not contested that his mental condition is in controversy. Indeed, throughout his complaint, plaintiff alleges defendant's and its agents' "negligent and/or reckless actions [were] direct and proximate causes of John Doe's past and continuing physical, emotional and mental pain, suffering and anguish." Complaint at ΒΆΒΆ 115-123, 125-139, 183-194. ...


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