Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Separate IMEs Denied for Cervical Spine/Carpal Tunnel Injuries

In his recent decision in the case of DiGiacinto v. Obelinas, No. 2009-CV-8085 (C.P. Lacka. Co. April 17, 2014 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon addressed the issue of whether a Plaintiff may be compelled to attend two separate IMEs where the primary injuries alleged are a cervical spine injury and carpal tunnel injuries.

The defense asserted in this matter that they were entitled to have the Plaintiff's alleged injuries evaluated by separate and distinct medical specialists as the types of injuries alleged were often treated by doctors of different specialties.  The defense also argued that the fact that the Plaintiff treated with two separate orthopedic surgeons supported the request for multiple independent medical examinations (IMEs).

The Plaintiff countered with the argument that his injuries were all orthopedic in nature and could all be addressed by a single physician at a single IME.

As noted in the Opinion, Pa.R.C.P. 4010, which governs the parameters of IMEs, is silent on the issue of requests for multiple exams.  In his Opinion, Judge Nealon reviewed a number of cases surrounding the issue, including several previously issued by Judge Carmen D. Minora and Judge Robert A. Mazzoni, also of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas.

Judge Terrence R. Nealon
Lackawanna County
Ultimately, Judge Nealon himself ruled in DiGiacinto that only one IME should be completed under the circumstances presented.  In so ruling, the court did note that there may be instances where it may be appropriate to compel a Plaintiff to attend multiple, separate IMEs such as when the case presents injuries that involve conditions that are treated under the exclusive province of different medical specialties.

As cervical spine disc injuries and carpal tunnel injuries were not within the exclusive domains of separate and distinct medical specialties, the court in DiGiacinto noted that the defense could secure a comprehensive IME through the retention of an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon.

Anyone wishing to review this decision may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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