There are a lot of emotions that come with filing a lawsuit against a company that has harmed you. Plaintiffs may experience a feeling of euphoria in taking those first steps toward doing something to start regaining some control in their lives. After all of the pain, suffering, and doctor’s appointments it is finally their turn to take action.
Many can be unprepared, however, for the fact that their lives may come under just as much scrutiny as the records of the company that they have sued.
Discovery is the process by which each side in a lawsuit gathers evidence about the opposing party. It is highly procedural and follows a strict set of rules. During discovery, either side may ask for documents, depositions, answers to specific written questions, or other facts-gathering pertaining to the case. People not directly involved in the case may be compelled to answer questions via subpoenas.
It’s important to note that both sides can be questioned during the discovery process. Companies, corporations, and individuals that are threatened with legal action will most likely do everything they can to defend themselves and generally entitled to get anything that may be “reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence.”
A Philadelphia man is finding this out after Comcast filed motions to obtain his medical and psychiatric records as a result of a lawsuit filed over a 2012 trip-and-fall.
Paul Bailey claims to have fallen in late November of 2012 as a result of a “broken, defective, or unlevel sidewalk” as well as an “open cable utility hole cover.” He claims permanent injuries as a result of his fall and states that those injuries will require continuous care. He asserts that Comcast, in addition to Subway, Verizon, and the City of Philadelphia were aware of the condition of the sidewalk and did nothing to fix it.
In response to his suit, telecommunications and cable giant Comcast filed 72 subpoenas to obtain Bailey’s health and psychiatric care records.
Bailey opposed, but Judge Lisa Rau found that the defense had the right to investigate these aspects of Bailey’s life and ordered the Plaintiff to comply. Bailey filed yet another motion in opposition to the judge’s ruling. A hearing was scheduled for early May but, according to the Court’s docket, the parties eventually reached an agreement on their own regarding the appropriate subpoenas.
Regardless of the outcome, it is important to understand that companies and corporations will go to great lengths to protect their interests when confronted with legal action. A strong plaintiffs’ law firm will fight to ensure that only those details of your life that absolutely must be handed over are released. However, the decision is ultimately that of the judge in the case and, if ordered to comply, those details will be investigated.
Make sure you raise any concerns you might have about the discovery process with your legal team. Ask about what will be investigated and what you’ll likely need to provide. Find out about the impact to your friends and family who may be called to testify. And, when your attorney asks you questions for their own preparation, be sure to answer as clearly and truthfully as you can. The outcome of your case may depend on it.