Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"Did Your Attorney Refer You to that Doctor?"

In a recent Delaware County Court of Common Pleas decision in the case of English v. Stepchin, No. CP-23-CV-786-2014, 101 Del. 424 (C.P. Del. Co. Nov. 12, 2014 Kenney, P.J.), President Judge Chad F. Kenney upheld a defense attorney’s right to inquire of a personal injury plaintiff whether or not plaintiff’s counsel had referred the plaintiff to her treating physician.

This issue came before the court on a Motion for a Re-Deposition of the plaintiff by defense counsel. 

At the original deposition, plaintiff’s counsel objected to the defense counsel’s question to the plaintiff as to whether or not plaintiff’s counsel had referred the plaintiff to her treating physicans.  Plaintiff’s counsel asserted that such discovery was barred by the attorney-client privilege.
In his Opinion issued on the matter, President Judge Kenney held that, "whether counsel referred Plaintiff to her treating physicians does not constitute legal assistance so as to justify properly invoking the attorney-client privilege."  More specifically, the court found that whether an attorney referred his client to a medical provider for treatment can not be considered to have been a communication from an attorney to his or her client associated with the rendering of a legal opinion or the provision of legal services so as to invoke the applicability of the attorney-client privilege.
President Judge Kenney also stated that any asserted privilege "failed to outweigh the interest of the accessibility of material evidence to further the truth-determining process" at a trial of a personal injury matter.
The Court granted Defendant's Motion and ordered a 2nd deposition limited to the issue of who referred Plaintiff to her treating physicians.

Anyone wishing to review this decision, may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Joseph A. McNelis, III of the Willow Grove, PA  law firm of Palmer Barr for bringing this decision to my attention.

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