Pennsylvania Superior Court Holds Mental Health Records Discoverable When Party Places Mental Health Into Issue.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court recently issued a decision in Gormley vs. Edgar ruling that the defendant was entitled to discovery of pre-accident mental health records pertaining to a plaintiff who had pled emotional distress claims as a result of a motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff in this case argued that she was only pleading everyday damages attendant to her claims as opposed to a separate claim for “emotional distress.” In the complaint, the plaintiff made a claim for injuries that were for “severe, disabling and indefinitely continuing, mental distress, anguish and anxiety.” The Superior Court held that, as a result of the allegations, the Plaintiff put her mental health status at issue. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling that the defense was entitled to discovery of medical records pertaining to mental health treatment. Of importance, the Superior Court noted that the general averments of “shock, mental anguish and humiliation” are routinely recoverable damages for noneconomic loss in Pennsylvania and are not sufficient to place a Plaintiff’s mental condition into issue or cause a waiver of privilege.
The Superior Court also held that the records were not protected under various Pennsylvania Mental Health Acts.
By: Scott B. Cooper, PAAJ-Auto Law