Law School Case Brief
Sacramona v. Bridgestone/Firestone - 152 F.R.D. 428 (D. Mass. 1993)
Fed. R. Civ. P. 35(a) expressly governs physical examinations of a party. In accordance with Rule 35(a), the court may order a physical examination when the physical condition of a party is "in controversy" and "good cause" is shown. The moving party must make an affirmative showing that the condition is genuinely in controversy and that good cause exists for ordering a particular examination. Although the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are liberally construed, physical examinations should be ordered only upon a discriminating application of the limitations of the Rule. Sweeping examinations of a party who has not affirmatively put into issue his own mental or physical condition are not to be automatically ordered merely because the person has been involved in an accident.
Plaintiff Robert J. Sacramona allegedly sustained serious and permanent injuries from an explosion resulting from the mismatching of the tire on the rim. Sacramona sought damages from Defendant Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. ("Bridgestone") for his future lost wages, medical expenses and disability. Bridgestone contended that because Sacramona made claims for future damages, Sacramona placed his life expectancy in issue and, based upon their knowledge of Sacramona’s prior drug abuse, requested that Sacramona undergo a blood test for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).
Was defendant Ridgestone’s motion to compel plaintiff Sacramona to submit to an HIV blood test in Sacramona’s action alleging personal injury from explosion of a tire produced by Bridgestone meritorious?
The court denied Bridgestone’s motion to compel because the relevance of the results from a compelled blood test to Sacramona’s cause of action was too attenuated. The court found that the information sought by Bridgestone was not relevant under Fed. R. Civ. P. 26. The court also disagreed with Bridgestone’s contention that Sacramona placed his life expectancy "in controversy" as required by Fed. R. Civ. P. 35(a). In order to comply with Rule 35(a), a defendant must show good cause for requesting a medical examination. The court stated that while it sympathized with Bridgestone’s efforts to prepare a comprehensive defense to Sacramona’s future damage claims, the extraordinary relief the tire rim manufacturer sought stretched beyond the parameters of Rule 35(a).
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