Washington Case Update: Trial Court Cannot Compel Plaintiffs to Sign Stipulations for Medical Records

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Trial Court Cannot Compel Plaintiffs to Sign Stipulations for Medical Records

From the Desk of Katie D. Buxman: When a plaintiff’s medical condition is at issue in a case, the defendant will often request that the plaintiff sign a release to allow the defendant to obtain medical records.  But when the plaintiff refuses to do so, what options does the defendant have?  Read on to find out.

Claims Pointer: In this case arising out of a car accident, the Washington Court of Appeals held that a trial court cannot compel a plaintiff to sign a stipulation or authorization for the release of his or her medical records.  Instead, the defendant must follow the methods permitted by the court rules.  The case is a reminder of the limits of discovery and the methods available to litigants to obtain information from the opposing party.

Sastrawidjaya v. Mughal, No. 47777-7-II, Washington Court of Appeals, Division II (October 18, 2016)

Following a car accident, Copin Sastrawidjaya (“Sastrawidjaya”) and Rianne Matheos (“Matheos”) (collectively “Plaintiffs”) filed a lawsuit against Maureen Mughal (“Mughal”).  Both Sastrawidjaya and Matheos are residents of British Columbia, Canada.

Mughal sent both plaintiffs a set of discovery requests, including interrogatories and requests for production aimed at identifying medical providers and obtaining medical records.  While Plaintiffs stated they were producing medical records in their possession, their responses in the interrogatories and in their later deposition testimony identified additional medical providers of which Mughal was unaware.

Mughal then sent Plaintiffs requests to sign stipulations and authorizations for the release of their medical records from all of their medical providers.  Both Sastrawidjaya and Matheos refused to sign the medical record stipulations, and Mughal filed a motion to compel the production of their medical records, claiming they had failed to produce all the records.  Mughal...

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