New York personal injury lawsuits have very liberal discovery rules when it comes to furnishing medical records. Almost any medical record, it seems, is fair game under the civil practice rule for discovery of all “material and necessary” documents.
But the First Department of the Appellate Division wrote a few days back that a tougher standard exists for more sensitive medical data, particularly with respect to HIV status and substance abuse materials. Applying the standard of the Health Law or Mental Hygiene Law instead of the Civil Practice Law and Rules, the court noted that a court should grant an order for disclosure of confidential HIV related information upon an application showing a “compelling need” for disclosure of the information for the adjudication of a criminal or civil proceeding.
Since the motion court had made its determination using “material and necessary” standard and not the “compelling need” standard, the lower court decision was reversed and remanded for consideration under the higher standard to see if such records exist and determine their discoverability (if any).