Sibbach v. Wilson & Co.

312 U.S. 1, 61 S. Ct. 422 (1941)

 

RULE:

The test must be whether a rule really regulates procedure, -- the judicial process for enforcing rights and duties recognized by substantive law and for justly administering remedy and redress for disregard or infraction of them.

FACTS:

Petitioner brought an action to recover damages for bodily injuries against respondent. Respondent moved for an order requiring petitioner to submit to a physical exam. When petitioner did not comply, the district court adjudged petitioner guilty of contempt. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court of the United States reversed the judgment.

ISSUE:

Were Fed. R. Civ. P. 35 and 37, relating to mental and physical examinations and to refusal to make discovery, promulgated within the authority granted by Congress?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

Fed. R. Civ. P. 35 and 37, relating to mental and physical examinations and to refusal to make discovery, were procedural rules, not substantive rules, and thus within the authority granted by the Rules Enabling Act of June 19, 1934, 28 U.S.C.S. § 723(b), (c). No invasion of freedom from personal restraint attached to refusal to comply with the rules' provisions. The district court erred in adjudging petitioner guilty of contempt because Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(b)(2)(iv) exempted from punishment by contempt the refusal to obey an order to submit to a physical or mental exam.

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