At issue in almost all personal injury litigation is the extent of a plaintiff’s physical injuries. Indeed, long before a possible trial, both plaintiffs and defendants enlist physicians to perform medical examinations and make professional determinations regarding the nature and extent of the alleged injuries. Given the obvious privacy interests associated with physical examinations and the defendant’s need to acquire evidence to rebut a plaintiff’s claims, problems related to medical examinations are not uncommon. Some of these possible issues are on full display in Kropf v. Celebrity Cruise, Inc., a recent decision from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Kropf arose from a slip-and-fall accident on a cruise ship owned and operated by Celebrity Cruises, Inc., the defendant in this case. The plaintiff was injured as a result of the fall and underwent revision surgery of a prior hip replacement. The surgery led to further permanent, debilitating, and significant injuries. In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged the defendant’s “negligence in allowing [the tile] to remain in a wet and slippery condition” caused the fall and, consequently, the resulting injuries. Following the initiation of the action, counsel for Celebrity Cruises emailed the plaintiff’s counsel a Notice of Compulsory Medical Evaluation, which stated the plaintiff needed to undergo a medical examination by the defendant’s medical expert and that the examination was being conducted for the purposes of determining the nature and extent of the plaintiff’s alleged injuries and any disabilities resulting from them. This notice was sent on October 14, 2014, but the plaintiff’s counsel did not respond until November 14, 2014, only about two weeks before the scheduled examination of December 1, 2014. The response stated that the plaintiff’s counsel intended to send a videographer to the medical examination. In response, the defendant brought a motion, asking the court to preclude both the plaintiff’s counsel and the plaintiff’s videographer from attending the medical examination.