Accident Victim's Drug Treatment Records Need Not Be Disclosed Where Their Relevance Not Shown

Case: Budano v. Gurdon

Court: Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York

Date: 7/24/12

From: New York attorney Gary E. Rosenberg (personal injury and accident attorney and lawyer; serving Brooklyn and Queens; Queens accident lawyer)

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Facts: This case is of interest. It is a rule that an accident victim puts his or her medical condition into a case when suing for personal injury. An accident plaintiff claiming injury must show medical records to support their case.

In this case the plaintiff seeks to recover money damages for injuries suffered in a slip-and-fall accident on building stairs. He alleges that his accident rendered him incapable to work in the future.

The standard medical record "HIPAA" form that we use in these cases has three separate boxes to initial to allow the party seeking the plaintiff's records to get AIDS, alcohol and drug treatment and mental health records. These records are considered extra sensitive and confidential. This defendant wanted all of these records.

The defense took the position that this plaintiff testified at his deposition that he had a history of drug addiction, which might affect his claimed injury and/or medical recovery. Thee was no basis for asking for AIDS-related records.

Plaintiff's lawyer argued that there was no showing that plaintiff was high at the time of his accident or that there was a showing that his past drug problem affected his medical care or healing.

The lower court judge refused to permit the defense to obtain these records, because there was no showing made that they were relevant to plaintiff's accident case. This appeal followed.

Held: The defense, as the party seeking these medical records, didn't meet its burden of showing their relevance. The lower court's decision is upheld and the defense request for AIDS, alcohol and drug treatment and mental health records records is denied.

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