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Tuma v. Connecticut Indemnity Co.

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

October 16, 1996

JAMES TUMA Petitioner
v.
CONNECTICUT INDEMNITY COMPANY Respondent/Insurer for WESTERN ENERGY Employer.

          October 16, 1996

          ORDER COMPELLING DISCOVERY AND VACATING DEPOSITION

          Mike McCarter JUDGE

         Summary: Insurer moved to compel production of documents and to vacate deposition of physician until records were produced. The records remaining at issue related to: (1) petitioner's treatment for alcoholism and/or drug addiction, which he argued were privileged under section 53-24-206, MCA, though he did not contend they were irrelevant; and (2) African sleeping sickness respondent believed claimant may have suffered, which claimant argued were not in his possession.

         Held: "A claimant for Workers' Compensation benefits waives any privilege of confidentiality in health care information which is relevant to the subject matter involved in his claim." Bowen v. Super Value Stores, 229 Mont. 84, 94, 745 P.2d 330, 337 (1987). The fact that medical records are not presently in a claimant's possession does not relieve him of the obligation to obtain the records or provide a release that will enable the insurer to obtain the records. Both sets of records must be produced. The deposition is vacated in light of the possibility that some of the records may be relevant to cross examination of the physician. Trial is vacated where it is unlikely discovery will be completed before the current setting.

         Topics:

Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations and Rules: Montana Code Annotated: Section 53-24-206, MCA. Claimant ordered to produce medical records related to treatment for alcoholism and/or drug addiction where he claimed the records were privileged, but did not argue they were not possibly relevant to litigation of his claim. Although section 53-24-206, MCA, relates to confidentiality of such records, "[a] claimant for Workers' Compensation benefits waives any privilege of confidentiality in health care information which is relevant to the subject matter involved in his claim." Bowen v. Super Value Stores, 229 Mont. 84, 94, 745 P.2d 330, 337 (1987).
Discovery: Depositions: Generally. Date for deposition of physician (and trial date) vacated where claimant had resisted production of certain medical records that were potentially relevant to cross-examination of physician and WCC granted motion to compel production of such documents. It was not likely discovery could be completed prior to deposition or trial dates.
Discovery: Compelling Discovery. Claimant ordered to produce medical records related to treatment for alcoholism and/or drug addiction where he claimed the records were privileged, but did not argue they were not possibly relevant to litigation of his claim. Although section 53-24-206, MCA, relates to confidentiality of such records, "[a] claimant for Workers' Compensation benefits waives any privilege of confidentiality in health care information which is relevant to the subject matter involved in his claim." Bowen v. Super Value Stores, 229 Mont. 84, 94, 745 P.2d 330, 337 (1987).
Discovery: Compelling Discovery. The fact that medical records are not presently in a claimant's possession does not relieve him of the obligation to obtain the records or provide a release that will enable the insurer to obtain the records.
Discovery: Objections to Discovery. Claimant ordered to produce medical records related to treatment for alcoholism and/or drug addiction where he claimed the records were privileged, but did not argue they were not possibly relevant to litigation of his claim. Although section 53-24-206, MCA, relates to confidentiality of such records, "[a] claimant for Workers' Compensation benefits waives any privilege of confidentiality in health care information which is relevant to the subject matter involved in his claim." Bowen v. Super Value Stores, 229 Mont. 84, 94, 745 P.2d 330, 337 (1987).
Discovery: Objections to Discovery. The fact that medical records are not presently in a claimant's possession does not relieve him of the obligation to obtain the records or provide a release that will enable the insurer to obtain the records.
Discovery: Records of Psychological Treatment. Claimant ordered to produce medical records related to treatment for alcoholism and/or drug addiction where he claimed the records were privileged, but did not argue they were not possibly relevant to litigation of his claim. Although section 53-24-206, MCA, relates to confidentiality of such records, "[a] claimant for Workers' Compensation benefits waives any privilege of confidentiality in health care information which is relevant to the subject matter involved in his claim." Bowen v. Super Value Stores, 229 Mont. 84, 94, 745 P.2d 330, 337 (1987).
Discovery: Requests for Production. Claimant ordered to produce medical records related to treatment for alcoholism and/or drug addiction where he claimed the records were privileged, but did not argue they were not possibly relevant to litigation of his claim. Although section 53-24-206, MCA, relates to confidentiality of such records, "[a] claimant for Workers' Compensation benefits waives any privilege of confidentiality in health care information which is relevant to the subject matter involved in his claim." Bowen v. Super Value Stores, 229 Mont. 84, 94, 745 P.2d 330, 337 (1987).
Discovery: Requests for Production. The fact that medical records are not presently in a claimant's possession does not relieve him of the obligation to obtain the records or provide a release that will ...

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