Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dauphin County Court Rules on Parameters of Neuropsychological and Vocational Exams

As noted in a recent Tort Talk blog post, Judge Carmen D. Minora of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas took the middle road in the case of  Marion v. Lukaitis while addressing the issue of third parties being in attendance during a neuropsychological IME of a plaintiff in a personal injury matter. 

More specifically, Judge Minora  held that a Plaintiff was allowed to have counsel present during the first two components of a neuropsychological examination.  However, the Lackawanna Court ruled that, once standardized testing began, a Plaintiff was precluded from having a third party present.  Click HERE to view that Tort Talk post, which contains a link to Judge Minora's actual Opinion as well as a link to a decision by Judge R. Stanton Wettick of the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on the same issue.

Another recent decision along these lines was recently handed down in the Dauphin County Court of Common Pleas by Judge Bernard L. Coates, Jr. in the case of Sanderson v. Geiger, 2011-CV-8539 (C.P. Dauphin Co. Aug. 22, 2013 Coates, J.).  As noted below, Judge Coates allowed for wider parameters for the defense-arranged examinations of the plaintiff.

By Order only, Judge Coates ruled in Sanderson that the "Plaintiff's attorney or representative shall be permitted to be present during all aspects of the examinations, without exception," in reference to the neuropsychological exam, the independent medical exam, and the vocational interview and testing set up by the defense.

Judge Coates also ruled that the "Plaintiff, at her expense, shall be permitted to audio record the entire IME, including the objective testing portion."  I was advised that this portion of the Order applied to all of the above-noted exams set up by the defense.

The court additionally ruled that the defense had to pay for the expenses for a hotel room for the Plaintiff to stay in the night before her examinations to which she had to travel a distance.  Plaintiff's counsel sought out this relief so as to allow the Plaintiff to walk into the testing "fresh" and to prevent the Plaintiff from having to undergo such examinations after a long drive, which could arguably impact the Plaintiff's ability to test and alter the results.

In his Order, Judge Coates also required the Plaintiff's experts and the defense experts to engage in a simultaneous exchange of all raw data, testing documents, expert reports, and any other documents generated by the experts so as to prevent one side's experts from having information before the other side's expert obtained the same information.

Anyone wishing to review Judge Coates detailed Order may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Robert F. Claraval of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania law firm of Claraval & Claraval for bringing this decision to my attention.

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