Let’s assume you are a Plaintiff and you sue someone for your injuries, including knee surgery, leg surgery and neck injuries.

Additionally, you claim emotional distress, anguish and anxiety from the injuries you sustained. Those are pretty standard allegations in most personal injury cases. The question is, under those circumstances, would the defense be entitled to get your mental health records as part of its case?

In Gormley vs. Edgar, the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that where a person makes an allegation in the Complaint that she sustained anxiety as a result of the accident, the Plaintiff has put her mental status at issue. As such, the defense is entitled to discover your pre-accident mental health treatment records. It is important to keep in mind that anxiety is a recognized mental health disorder.

The Superior Court decision said that the ordinary and general allegations of shock, mental anguish and humiliation, which often are plead in personal injury complaints, are not sufficient in themselves to place a person’s mental condition at issue or allow the defense to get the victim’s mental health records.

I think this case illustrates how important it is to carefully draft our personal injury complaints, so as not to expose our clients to these types of discovery requests.