Florida Appeals Court Refuses to Order Neurological Exam Absent Good Cause in Negligence Case: Gray v. Richbell

In Gray v. Richbell, a woman was killed when her automobile was rear-ended by another car as she passed a tractor-trailer.  The force of the impact apparently caused the woman to lose control of her vehicle and drive into oncoming traffic, where she collided head-on with a truck. Following the fatal motor vehicle accident, the woman’s parents filed a negligence lawsuit against the driver of the truck. According to the woman’s family, the driver negligently failed to avoid the deadly crash. In their complaint, the woman’s parents also claimed that the driver’s age and health contributed to the wreck.

During discovery, an accident reconstruction expert for the parents apparently determined the truck driver caused the fatal crash without actually viewing his medical records. Later, however, the woman’s family was provided with a copy of the driver’s medical records and the opportunity to depose his doctor. Next, the parents asked the trial court to compel the truck driver to submit to a neurological examination. The man objected by stating the woman’s parents failed to demonstrate good cause for the exam as required by the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. About one week before trial, a judge held a hearing on the matter and ordered the driver to submit to the examination. Since the neurological examination order was issued only one week prior to trial, the truck driver asked Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals to review the case and filed a petition to overturn the trial court’s order.

The appeals court granted certiorari in the case because the discovery order was one that could cause “material injury” to the truck driver, and there would be “no adequate remedy on appeal.” The court then examined the requirements of Rule 1.360 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. According to the Fourth District, the rule allows one party to request a medical examination of another only with good cause and where there is a controversy regarding the purported medical condition being examined. Next, the court stated the truck driver’s conduct was the only issue in the case and said the driver’s health was not material to the question of whether or not he committed a negligent act that ultimately led to the traffic collision. Since the woman’s parents failed to demonstrate good cause for their request, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals granted the truck driver’s petition to prevent a court-ordered neurological examination of him.

Proving negligence following an automobile collision can be difficult, and establishing the proper evidence at trial is vital. If you were hurt or a loved one was killed in a motor vehicle crash that was caused by a negligent driver, an experienced Miami car accident lawyer can help. To schedule a free confidential consultation with a hardworking personal injury attorney, please contact Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. through our website or give us a call today at (305) 448-8585.

Additional Resources:

Gray v. Richbell, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 4th Dist. 2014

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