Williams v. Nguyen et al
ORDER AND REASONS: ORDERED that 18 Motion to Compel Physical Examination is GRANTED provided that the Defendant pay for either an Uber or Taxi to transport the Plaintiff to and from Dr. Cenacs office in Houma. The Parties should also work to find a mutually agreeable date. Signed by Magistrate Judge Karen Wells Roby. (cml)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
FRANK WILLIAMS, III
TIM NGUYEN, ET AL
SECTION: “E” (4)
Before the Court is Motion to Compel Physical Examination (R. Doc. 18) filed by filed
by the Defendants, Miss Carla, LLC and Jeremiah Pierron seeking an order compelling the
independent medical examination of Frank Williams by Dr. Christopher Cenac, Sr., a board
certified orthopedic surgeon. The motion is opposed. R. Doc. 28. The motion will be heard on
March 29, 2017 and submitted that same day.
This action was filed in the District Court on August 19, 2016. R. Doc. 1. Frank Williams,
III (“Plaintiff”) alleges that at all relevant times he was employed by the Defendants Tim
Nguyen, C9, Inc., Nghia Nguyen, and/or Nghia, Inc.and assigned to the C9, a vessel. R. Doc. 15,
p. 23. On May 25, 2016, the C9 was lashed to Brothers, another vessel. Id. at p. 3. While so lashed,
the C9 was struck by the Miss Carla, a third vessel owned and operated by Jeremiah Pierron and/or
Miss Carla, LLC. Id. The force of the impact allegedly threw the Plaintiff from his bunk where he
was resting. Id. at p. 4. As a result, the Plaintiff suffered severe temporary and permanently
disabling injuries to his cervical spine, lumbar spine, connective tissue, muscles, joints, and nerves.
Id. The Plaintiff has alleged two causes of actions under the Jones Act against his employers as
well as the owners of the Miss Carla.
At this time, the Defendant has filed a Motion to Compel Physical Examination (R. Doc.
18) seeking to compel an independent medical examination (“IME”) with Dr. Christopher Cenac,
Sr., a board certified orthopedic surgeon located in Houma, Louisiana. However, the Plaintiff has
only objected to the IME as well as the only opposed the motion for the sole reason that the IME
is scheduled in Houma, which would require over 120 miles of travel from the Plaintiff’s location
in Algiers. R. Doc. 28. During oral argument, the Plaintiff also stated that traveling to Houma
might require his missing work. In response, the Defendants have offered to pay for his
transportation there. R. Doc. 18-1, p. 3.
Standard of Review
Physical and mental examinations are governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 35.
Rule 35 allows the Court to order “a party whose mental or physical condition…is in controversy
to submit to a physical or mental examination” when there has been a “motion for good cause and
on notice to all parties and the person to be examined.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 35(a)(1)-(2); see also,
Acosta v. Tenneco Oil Co., 913 F.2d 205, 208 (5th Cir. 1990) (“Under Rule 35, three requirements
are necessary to enable a court to order a Rule 35 exam: (1) the party's physical or mental condition
must be in controversy; (2) the expert must be either a physician or a psychologist; and (3) good
cause must be shown.”). Rule 35’s “in controversy” and “good cause” requirements “are not
satisfied by showing ‘mere relevance to the case.’” In re Oil Spill by Oil Rig DEEPWATER
HORIZON, MDL No. 2179, 2012 WL 607971, at *3 (E.D. La. Feb. 24, 2012) (quoting
Schlagenhauf v. Holder, 379 U.S. 104, 118 (1964)). As the court in In Re Oil Spill by Oil Rig
DEEPWATER HORIZON explained:
Rather, what is required is “an affirmative showing by the movant that each
condition as to which the examination is sought is really and genuinely in
controversy and that good cause exists for ordering each particular examination.”
Whether these requirements are met necessarily depends on the particular facts of
the case and the scope of the examination sought.
2012 WL 607971, at *3 (citations omitted) (quoting Schlagenhauf, 379 U.S. at 118). Finally, “Rule
35(a) should be liberally construed in favor of discovery.” Lahr v. Fulbright & Jaworski, L.L.P.,
164 F.R.D. 204, 207 (N.D. Tex. 1996).
In selecting the independent expert to conduct the examination, “the usual attitude is that
although the moving party has no absolute right to the choice of the physician, when no serious
objection arises, it is probably best for the court to appoint the doctor of the moving party's choice.”
Lahr v. Fulbright & Jaworski, L.L.P., 164 F.R.D. 196, 202 (N.D. Tex. 1995) (citing 8A Charles
A. Wright, Arthur R. Miller & Richard L. Marcus, Federal Practice &Procedure, §2234.2 (1994)).
Here, the Defendants have filed a motion for the Plaintiff to submit to an Independent
Medical Examination with Dr. Cenac in Houma. R. Doc. 18. At this time, the Plaintiff does not
argue that his physical health is not “in controversy” or that there is not “good cause” for an IME.
R. Doc. 28. Rather, the Plaintiff’s only objection is to the location of the IME.
“Most judges have, in the usual case, ordered the plaintiff to appear for examination at the
place where the trial would be held—that is, at the venue selected initially by the plaintiff.” Baird
v. Quality Foods, Inc., 47 F.R.D. 212, 212-13 (E.D. La. 1969); see also 8B C. Wright, A. Miller
& R. Marcus, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2234 (3d ed. 2016) (“Usually plaintiff will be
required to come to the place where he or she filed suit for the examination, in the absence of facts
showing substantial reasons for insisting upon examination at his or her residence.”). However,
the usual case may give way where the plaintiff can demonstrate that “the trip would be injurious
to his health, or that there is any other compelling reason for his reluctance.” Baird, 47 F.R.D. at
213; see also, In Re Bordelon Marine, Inc., No. 11-1473, 2012 WL 1902576 at *3 (E.D. La. May
25, 2012) (finding distance of 214 miles too far to make Plaintiff travel for IME).
During oral argument, the Parties reached an agreement concerning the IME. The
Defendant provided that it would pay for either an Uber or a taxi to transport the Plaintiff to and
from Dr. Cenac’s office in Houma. The Defendant also stated that it would work with the Plaintiff
in securing a mutually agreeable date. The Plaintiff agreed to these terms. As such, the Court grants
the motion to compel IME pursuant to these terms.
IT IS ORDERED that the Defendant’s Motion to Compel Physical Examination (R.
Doc. 18) is GRANTED provided that the Defendant pay for either an Uber or Taxi to transport
the Plaintiff to and from Dr. Cenac’s office in Houma. The Parties should also work to find a
mutually agreeable date.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 29rd day of March 2017.
KAREN WELLS ROBY
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?