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Psychiatric Records can be Relevant to Physical Injury

Summary of SC91706, State ex rel. BNSF Railway Co. v. The Honorable Mark H. Neill

Proceeding originating in the St. Louis city circuit court, Judge Mark H. Neill
Argued and submitted Nov. 2, 2011
Overview: A defendant in a personal injury lawsuit asked the trial court in the underlying action
to allow the defendant to obtain during the discovery process medical records held by a
psychiatrist treating and prescribing medications to the plaintiff. The trial court prohibited the
defendant from seeking this evidence from the psychiatrist because it believed psychiatric
records could not be relevant to any issue in a case not alleging psychiatric injuries. In a 4-3
decision written by Judge Laura Denvir Stith, the Supreme Court of Missouri issues its
permanent writ mandating that the trial court permit the requested discovery. The trial court
abused its discretion in failing to consider the relevance of the requested records to the cause of
the plaintiff’s injuries, where, as here, the defendant showed medications prescribed for the
plaintiff could have contributed to causing his injuries.