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Sears v. Travelers Insurance

Court of Workers Compensation of Montana

January 13, 1997

STEPHEN A. SEARS Petitioner
v.
TRAVELERS INSURANCE Respondent/Insurer for COULTER CORPORATION Employer.

          Submitted: January 6, 1997

          ORDER REGARDING DISCOVERY

          MIKE McCARTER JUDGE.

         Summary: Insurer moved to compel discovery, including responses to interrogatories and requests to produce. Insurer also asked for continuance of trial in order to have time to obtain an independent medical examination.

         Held: Where more than 20 days have elapsed since service of respondent's interrogatories, and petitioner made no request for an extension of time in which to answer, the WCC orders answers. ARM 24.5.323. Petitioner's generic agreement to produce records in the future is insufficient. Claimant's request that doctors forward medical records is not sufficient if time has lapsed and the records have not been produced. Where petitioner has undertaken to obtain the records, he has an obligation to further contact doctors to determine when the records will be forthcoming, whether there is anything he can do to expedite their release, and if not forthcoming, determine why not. Request for continuance to permit IME and receipt of medical records is denied where present petition seeks temporary total disability benefits based on respondent's alleged failure to comply with Coles requirements for termination of benefits. The Coles criteria are essentially mechanical ones and it is not clear to the Court what relevance the outstanding discovery or an IME has to that issue.

         Topics:

Constitutions, Statutes, Regulations and Rules: Workers; Compensation Court Rules: ARM 24.5.323. Where more than 20 days have elapsed since service of respondent's interrogatories, and petition has made no request for an extension of time in which to answer, the WCC orders that answers be provided.
Discovery: Compelling Discovery. Where more than 20 days have elapsed since service of respondent's interrogatories, and petition has made no request for an extension of time in which to answer, the WCC orders that answers be provided.
Discovery: Independent Medical Examinations. Request for continuation to permit IME and receipt of medical records is denied where present petition seeks temporary total disability benefits based on respondent's alleged failure to comply with Coles requirements for termination of benefits. The Coles criteria are essentially mechanical ones and it is not clear to the Court what relevance the outstanding discovery or an IME has to that issue. An IME is appropriate where there are medical issues and the IME may result in opinions relevant to those issues. Where the litigation does not involve medical issues or the IME is not calculated to produce opinions relevant to the medical issues present in the case, the Court will not order an IME.
Discovery: Requests for Production. Petitioner's generic agreement to produce records in the future is insufficient. Claimant's request that doctors forward medical records is not sufficient if time has lapsed and the records have not been produced. Where petitioner has undertaken to obtain the records, he has an obligation to further contact the doctors to determine when the records will be forthcoming, whether there is anything he can do to expedite their release, and if not forthcoming, determine why not.

         The Court has before it respondent's motion to compel discovery, along with a supporting brief, an answer brief, a reply brief, and eight exhibits. The matters raised by the motion do not warrant the amount of time, ink and effort expended on them. The discovery issues could and should have been handled by a telephone conference with the Court. However, since they were not, the Court will address them formally and enter its order regarding the motion.

         The motion concerns petitioner's responses to respondent's first requests for production and respondent's second interrogatories to petitioner. Respondent argues that the petitioner's responses to the requests for production were inadequate and incomplete and asks that petitioner be ordered to further respond. It additionally states that petitioner has failed to answer second interrogatories propounded on October 3, 1996, and asks that petitioner be compelled to answer them. The Court will address the two discovery requests in reverse order and will then address other issues raised in the parties' briefs.

         1. Interrogatories.

         The rules of this Court require a party upon whom interrogatories have been propounded to answer the interrogatories under oath within 20 days of service of the interrogatories. ARM 24.5.323. The time may be extended by the Court, id., but petitioner never requested an extension. Since the 20 days for answering the interrogatories expired long ago, respondent is ...


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