Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Plaintiff's Parents Are Not an Appropirate Subject of a Mental Health Exam

Roe v. Superior Court, No. H042060 (D6 Dec. 18, 2015)

Plaintiff is a minor who alleges he was sexually abused by another kid at school. He sued the school and various school employees for failing to protect him. Because Plaintiff’s mental health was in issue, the school sought to have him submit to a mental heath examination under Code of Civil Procedure § 2032.020. But they also sought an order permitting their expert to interview Plaintiff
s parents as part of the examination.

That doesn’t work. When mental state is in issue, § 2032.020 permits a court to order a mental examination of any of three categories of people: parties, their agents, and persons under their custody or legal control. It notably does not include parties’ parents or guardians. So while it might be a standard professional practice for a psychologist to interview parents as part of examining an allegedly abused minor, the Discovery Act doesn’t provide for it, and the trial court shouldn’t have permitted it here.

The trial court did not err, however, in ordering that the defendant’s experts needed only to provide written reports of their examinations, without turning over the raw testing batteries they employed. While § 2032.610 requires an expert to produce the “results of all tests made,” no authority supports the proposition that it requires the production of raw data. And in any event, because the trial court made clear that it would consider ordering further discovery if the reports were insufficient, writ relief on the point wasn’t ripe at this point in the case.

Writ granted.

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