Can a Party Be Compelled to Execute a Release?

The easiest way to obtain medical records for a personal injury lawsuit is to have the patient execute an authorization allowing you to obtain them.  I previously posted how this is standard in Las Vegas’ state court, but not so for at least two federal magistrate judges.  However, now a third magistrate judge has considered the issue and ruled that the authorizations may be compelled.

In Prado-Guajardo v. Perez, the defendants sent requests for production asking the plaintiff to execute authorizations to obtain plaintiff’s “employment, worker’s compensation, insurance claims, and Medicare records.”[1]  Plaintiff objected, stating only “that the requests are ‘not reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence’ and that she is not making a claim for lost wages.”  A motion to compel resulted.

The relevance objection was not on point, but was quickly dispatched anyway.  The discovery sought was relevant to the plaintiff’s claims stated in her complaint that her injuries caused her “to be disabled and limited and restricted in their occupations and activities, which caused to Plaintiff a loss of wages in an unascertainable amount… and/or diminution of Plaintiff’s learning capacity and future loss of wages….”  She also alleged that she “suffered injuries in and about the neck, back, legs, arms, organs, systems, and was other otherwise injured and caused to suffer great pain of body and mind. And all or some of the same is chronic and may be permanent and disabling….”  She had not withdrawn these allegations, nor was there a stipulation on point, so the information sought was still appropriate.

As to the authorizations, Magistrate Judge Ferenbach concluded Rule 34 should be interpreted consistent with Rule 1.  Using that framework, “that a party may request an opposing party sign and execute written authorizations under Rule 34(a). And, if necessary, Rule 34, along with Rule 37, gives courts the power to compel parties to sign written authorization forms consenting to the production of various documents.”  This logic is similar to what I discussed in posts on June 26, 2014 and March 9, 2015.

Whether you are able to obtain medical record authorizations in the local federal court is a matter of which Magistrate Judge is hearing the motion.

[1] No. 2:16-cv-00546, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114844, 2017 WL 3130420 (D. Nev. July 24, 2017).