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In re Autozone Parts, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District

November 2, 2017

IN RE AUTOZONE PARTS, INC. AND AARON ALLEN, Relators

         Original Proceeding on Petition for Writ of Mandamus

          Panel consists of Justices Jennings, Bland, and Brown.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Jane Bland Justice

         AutoZone Parts, Inc. and Aaron Allen, seek mandamus relief from the trial court's order denying their motion to compel the medical examination of Raul Maturey in the underlying personal injury suit filed by Maturey against them.[1]AutoZone and Allen contend that (1) they satisfied the "good cause" requirement for the medical exam after Maturey designated medical doctors as witnesses who might testify regarding his physical injuries and his need for future medical care; and (2) they lack an adequate remedy on appeal. We conditionally grant the petition.

         Background

         This case arose out of a car accident between vehicles operated by Maturey and Allen. At the time of the accident, Allen was driving a vehicle in the course and scope of his employment with AutoZone. Maturey sued AutoZone and Allen for negligence, alleging injuries to his back and neck. Maturey designated multiple medical providers as expert witnesses.

         AutoZone and Allen moved that Maturey be required to submit to a medical examination by one of their experts, an orthopedic surgeon. See Tex. R. Civ. P. 204. Maturey responded that AutoZone and Allen had failed to show "good cause" for the examination. The trial court denied the motion.

         Discussion

         In their petition, AutoZone and Allen contend that the trial court's order denying their medical exam motion was an abuse of discretion because they met the requirements for a medical examination under Texas Rule of Civil Procedure 204.1.

         I. Standard of Review

         Mandamus is available only when the relator can show both that (1) the trial court clearly abused its discretion or violated a duty imposed by law, and (2) there is no adequate remedy by way of appeal. In re Ford Motor Co., 165 S.W.3d 315, 317 (Tex. 2005) (per curiam) (orig. proceeding); Walker v. Packer, 827 S.W.2d 833, 839-40 (Tex. 1992) (orig. proceeding); see also In re H & R Block, 159 S.W.3d 127, 132 (Tex. App.-Corpus Christi 2004, orig. proceeding). In determining whether an appeal is adequate, we consider whether the benefits outweigh the detriments of mandamus review. In re BP Prods. N. Am., Inc., 244 S.W.3d 840, 845 (Tex. 2008) (orig. proceeding).

         II. Applicable Law

         Rule 204.1 governs whether a movant may obtain a physical or mental examination of another party. Tex.R.Civ.P. 204.1(a); In re H.E.B. Grocery Co., L.P., 492 S.W.3d 300, 303 (Tex. 2016). The trial court may grant a Rule 204.1 motion if the movant shows that (1) "good cause" exists and (2) the physical condition is "in controversy." Tex.R.Civ.P. 204.1(c). "Accordingly, 'good cause' must be shown for issuance of the exams, which may be shown when the mental or physical condition of the party is 'in controversy, ' or the party responding to the motion has designated a psychologist as a testifying expert or disclosed a psychologist's records for possible use at trial." In re Reliable Com. Roofing Servs., No. 01-15-00450-CV, 2016 WL 3345483, at *4 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] May 24, 2016, orig. proceeding) (citing In re Medina, No. 01-07-007474-CV, 2007 WL 4279171, at *2 (Tex. App.-Houston [1st Dist.] Dec. 6, 2007, orig. proceeding)).

         "Good cause" for Rule 204.1(c) is shown when (1) the examination is relevant to issues in the case and that the examination will produce, or is likely to lead to, relevant evidence; (2) there is a reasonable nexus between the condition of the person to be examined and the examination sought; and (3) it is impossible to obtain the desired information through means that are less intrusive than a compelled examination. Id. (citing Coates v. Whittington, 758 S.W.2d 749, 753 (Tex. 1988)). The "in controversy" requirement varies according to whether physical or mental medical exams are at issue. Medina, 2007 WL 4279171, at *2. Physical injuries have been held to be in controversy when a party (1) places the condition into controversy by employing it either in support of, or in defense of, a claim or (2) a party affirmatively shows that the ...


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