Discovery: Independent Medical Examinations

Vulk v. Employers Compensation Ins. Co. [05/15/14] 2014 MTWCC 13 The Court held that Petitioner could discover certain information regarding an IME physician’s other work for insurers for the past three years in order to investigate any potential bias.

Vulk v. Employers Compensation Ins. Co. [05/15/14] 2014 MTWCC 13 Even though the parameters set forth in Hegwood v. Montana Fourth Judicial Dist. Court, 2003 MT 200, 317 Mont. 30, 75 P.3d 308, are more expansive than those in Fjelstad v. Fireman’s Fund, 1999 MTWCC 62, the Court found the decisions largely consistent with each other.  Both contemplate the discovery of financial information and details related to the IME physician’s work for other insurers or their agents.  Hegwood makes it clear that it is acceptable for claimants to investigate any potential bias.

Dodge v. Montana Insurance Guaranty Ass'n [07/21/11] 2011 MTWCC 20 After Petitioner attended two IMEs, including a two-day psychological IME, Respondent cannot compel Petitioner to submit to a third IME by alleging that it wants Petitioner to undergo memory testing where it has neither identified which tests Petitioner has already undergone nor which tests it now seeks. Respondent has given the Court no means to assess whether these additional tests would be duplicative of tests already performed nor has it offered an explanation as to why those tests were not performed during Petitioner’s previous IMEs.
Challinor v. Montana Insurance Guaranty Association [05/14/08] 2008 MTWCC 21 Where Respondent provided the Court with a detailed explanation of its efforts to obtain voluminous medical and employment records necessary for conducting an IME, the Court found Respondent had been diligent and good cause existed for its untimely request for an IME. However, Respondent has a duty to mitigate any prejudice caused by the late request and must timely disclose the IME report and arrange this to occur far enough in advance of trial that Petitioner will have the opportunity to depose the IME doctors and prepare his case.
Haman v. Wausau [11/30/07] 2007 MTWCC 49 An IME is no different than a deposition, in which a party has the right to exclude any non-party to ensure that the responses from the deponent are accurate and uninfluenced. Therefore, Petitioner’s husband will not be allowed to be present at, and to videotape, Petitioner’s IME. However, a deposition is taken on the record with the party’s attorney present. Where the claimant has a contentious history with the IME doctor, the Court will allow Respondent’s follow-up IME to be conducted on the record and with Petitioner’s counsel present.

Mark Fjelstad v. Fireman's Fund [10/15/99] 1999 MTWCC 62 Claimant sought to compel answers to interrogatories about relationship between insurer and physician who performed independent medical examination, including number of IMEs particular physician had performed for insurer within last six years and total yearly compensation to physician, and to compel production of documents relating to same. While claimant is entitled to ask the Court to evaluate this physician's credibility in light of the frequency of his IMEs for this insurer, that point can be made without broad or unduly burdensome discovery. Respondent ordered to identify the total annual number of independent medical examinations the doctor has conducted at the request of the insurer over the last three year period, and the amount of compensation paid to the doctor by the insurer for such work. If that information is not readily available, the insurer may respond with an estimate for both. The request for any additional information, and for documents, is overly broad and burdensome.

Sears v. Travelers Ins. [1/13/97] 1997 MTWCC 2 Request for continuation to permit IME and receipt of medical records is denied where present petition seeks temporary total disability benefits based on respondent's alleged failure to comply with Coles requirements for termination of benefits. The Coles criteria are essentially mechanical ones and it is not clear to the Court what relevance the outstanding discovery or an IME has to that issue. An IME is appropriate where there are medical issues and the IME may result in opinions relevant to those issues. Where the litigation does not involve medical issues or the IME is not calculated to produce opinions relevant to the medical issues present in the case, the Court will not order an IME.
Blancher v. Liberty Mutual [12/24/96] 1996 MTWCC 74 Insurer's motion to compel independent psychiatric examination is granted over claimant's objection based on opinions of her treating physicians that such evaluation is not necessary and could be harmful to claimant. The insurer produced counter-opinions indicating the need for further evaluation. A well-known and respected psychiatrist opined that further evaluation is warranted and outlined a non-demanding examination schedule in a neutral environment. An orthopedic surgeon opined that claimant's industrial injury was a muscle strain which has completely healed, suggesting her continued complaints may be due to psychological factors unrelated to the injury.