Lureen v. Holl et al
ORDER granting 81 Motion to Compel Independent Medical Evaluation. Signed by US Magistrate Judge Veronica L. Duffy on 10/10/2017. (CG)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF SOUTH DAKOTA
KERRI LUREEN, as Guardian Ad Litem
of S.L., a Minor,
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS'
MOTION TO COMPEL IME AND
RECOMMENDING GRANTING OF AN
EXTENSION OF THE SCHEDULING
DOCTOR’S ASSOCIATES, INC.;
SUBWAY IP, INC.; FRANCHISE WORLD
HEADQUARTERS, LLC.; METRO
INITIATIVES, LLC, all d/b/a “Subway;”
CHRISTOPHER JOHN HOLL, in his
personal capacity and as owner; and
JOHN CLARK, in his personal capacity
and as owner;
Docket No. 81
This matter is before the court on the amended complaint of plaintiff
Kerri Lureen, guardian ad litem of the minor S.L., alleging sex discrimination,
hostile work environment, constructive discharge, negligence, and assault and
battery as regards S.L. See Docket No. 56. Jurisdiction is founded on the
presence of a federal question, diversity of citizenship of the parties, and the
court's supplemental jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332, and 1367.
Defendants have filed a motion to compel S.L. to undergo an independent
medical examination (IME). See Docket No. 81. Plaintiff agrees that S.L. will
submit to the IME, but seeks to have a third party present with S.L. during the
IME. See Docket No. 100. Plaintiff also seeks to require defendants to pay S.L.
for her travel expenses and lost wages. Id. The Honorable Lawrence L. Piersol,
United States District Court Judge, referred plaintiff's motion to this magistrate
judge for decision pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A). See Docket No. 88.
Background and Parties
Plaintiff is the mother and guardian of S.L., a minor who is currently
17 ½ years old. S.L. worked for a Subway restaurant on East Arrow Avenue
NE in Watertown, South Dakota, for approximately 9 months, from August,
2015, to March 16, 2016. S.L. was 15 years old at the time she went to work
for Subway. S.L.'s claims center around sexual contact perpetrated by her
direct manager at Subway, Kiley Ramstorf, a man 14 years older than she. The
Watertown Subway was owned at the time by Metro Initiatives, LLC ("Metro"), a
business entity owned by defendants Christopher John Holl and John Clark,
together with Ramstorf.
Plaintiff alleges that defendants Doctor's Associates, Inc. ("DIA");
Franchise World Headquarters, LLC ("FWH"); and Subway IP (plaintiff
collectively characterizes these parties as "Subway"), had substantial control
over day-to-day activities of its franchisees, specifically, Metro. Plaintiff asserts
that the Subway defendants and Metro should be considered a single employer,
joint employers, or as principal and agent.
The Facts Pertaining to the IME
Plaintiff has placed S.L.'s mental condition at issue, asserting damages
for mental and emotional distress. Plaintiff has had S.L. examined by her own
mental health expert, Dr. Sarah Flynn, who has produced a report.
Defendants seek to have S.L. undergo an IME with an expert of their own
choosing, Dr. Avram Mack. The location of the IME will be in Sioux Falls,
South Dakota. Defendants propose the exam will take approximately five
hours, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., with regular breaks and a break for lunch.
No standardized testing will be administered during the IME. Furthermore,
defendants have agreed to video and audio record the IME.
Plaintiff seeks to have her expert, Dr. Flynn, present during the IME or,
in the alternative, her lawyer. Additionally, plaintiff seeks to have defendants
pay for her travel from her home in Watertown, South Dakota, to the site of the
IME in Sioux Falls.
Provisions of Rule 35
Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows the court to order a
party whose physical or mental condition is in controversy to submit to a
mental examination by a licensed or certified examiner. See FED. R. CIV. P.
35(a). There must be good cause for the order, notice to the person to be
examined must be given, and the court must "specify the time, place, manner,
conditions, and scope of the examination as well as the person . . . who will
perform it." Id. at subsection (a)(2). The parties may also agree to the IME and
the terms governing it. Id. at subsection (b)(6).
After the examination, the person who conducted it must provide the
opposing party a written report setting out in detail the examiner's findings,
diagnoses, conclusions, and the results of any tests. Id. at subsection (b). The
patient-physician privilege does not apply to the IME, its subsequent report, or
testimony given regarding the IME. Id. at subsection (b)(4).
Here, the parties have agreed to the fact of the IME, to the identity of the
person who will conduct the IME, to the location of the IME and to video and
audio recording of the IME. The only two conditions on which the parties
disagree are (1) whether S.L. should be allowed to have her expert, Dr. Flynn,
or her lawyer in the room with her during the mental exam; and (2) whether
defendants should pay S.L. her mileage and lost wages for attending the IME.
Presence of a Third Party in the IME
Rule 35 does not address the question whether a party undergoing an
IME may have a third party with them during the examination. See FED. R.
CIV. P. 35. There are decisions supporting both the affirmative and negative
answer to this question. 8B Fed. Prac. & Proc. § 2236 (3d ed. Apr. 2017). It is
well-settled that courts have the discretion to allow for the presence of a third
party under appropriate circumstances. Id.; Tomlin v. Holecek, 150 F.R.D.
628, 631 (D. Minn. 1993). The "overwhelming" majority of federal courts to
consider the question have disallowed third parties to attend IMEs. See
William S. Wyatt & Richard A. Bales, The Presence of Third Parties at Rule 35
Examinations, 71 Temp. L. Rev. 103, 110 (Spring 1998).
Where third parties have been allowed to attend an IME, it has often
been where the IME is a physical examination. Where the IME concerns
examination of objective, physical manifestations of injury or disease, the
presence of a third party is not likely to affect the outcome of that examination.
However, this is not true regarding mental examinations. "Courts have
recognized that the presence of third parties during mental examinations may
be distracting and may alter the results of the testing." Newman v. San
Joaquin Community College Dist., 272 F.R.D. 505, 513-14 (E.D. Ca. 2011)
(emphasis added). "Third party observers may, regardless of their good
intentions, contaminate a mental examination." Ragge v. MCA/Universal
Studios, 165 F.R.D. 605, 609-10 (C.D. Ca. 1995). Because a mental
examination is "an interpersonal exchange between two persons, there is by
definition, a subjective component to a psychiatric examination" that can be
affected by the presence of others. Sidari v. Orleans County, 174 F.R.D. 275,
291 (W.D.N.Y. 1996). "[P]sychological examinations necessitate an unimpeded,
one-on-one exchange between the doctor and the patient." Letcher v. Rapid
City Reg. Hosp., Inc., 2010 WL 1930113 at *8 (D.S.D. May 12, 2010) (quoting
Cline v. Firestone, 118 F.R.D. 588, 589 (S.D.W. Va. 1988)).
On this basis, numerous courts have refused to allow third parties to be
present during mental IMEs. See Newman, 272 F.R.D. at 513-14; Tomlin, 150
F.R.D. at 631-32 (having a third party present at a mental examination may
potentially invalidate the examination results); Tirado v. Erosa, 158 F.R.D. 294,
296 (S.D.N.Y. 1994) (disallowing attorney or stenographer to attend mental
IME); Galieti v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 154 F.R.D. 262, 265 (D. Colo.
1994) (disallowing third party in a mental IME). Cf. Sanden v. Mayo Clinic,
495 F.2d 221, 225 (8th Cir. 1974) (finding no abuse of discretion in the district
court's refusal to allow plaintiff's physician to attend a physical IME with her).
Here, defendants' expert has submitted an affidavit stating that the
presence of third parties in his mental IME with S.L. may "change the
dynamics of the exam, could be disruptive and distracting and could ultimately
lead to erroneous conclusions." See Docket No. 84 at p. 2, ¶ 3.a. Additionally,
the affidavit reveals S.L. has interacted with her own experts and medical care
providers without the presence of a third party. Id. at ¶ 3.b. Defendants'
expert concedes there are circumstances where it may be necessary to have a
third party present during a child's interview, but that none of those
circumstances exist in S.L.'s case.1 Id. at ¶ 3.c. Finally, defendants' expert
emphasizes that the validity of mental testing depends upon creating an
environment free of distractions where the subject and the examiner can
develop an "independent rapport." Id. at ¶ 3.d.
Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit from her own expert stating that S.L.
has suffered severe emotional and psychiatric conditions as a result of the
The circumstances are: (1) an interpreter is needed, (2) the examiner is using
techniques not generally accepted by the medical community which may be
harmful, (3) the child is young with significant separation difficulties, or (4) the
child has demonstrated an inability to be interviewed alone. See Docket No. 84
at p. 2, ¶ 3.c.
sexual abuse suffered by her as alleged in this lawsuit. See Docket No. 101,
p. 2 at ¶¶ 4-5. Plaintiff's expert fears S.L. may have extreme difficulty
interacting alone in a room with an unknown adult male and may lead S.L. to
become "suicidal or uncontrollable in terms of her emotional status." Id. at
¶ 6. S.L. is currently 17 ½ years old and works outside the home.
S.L.'s age in large part distinguishes the situation from the plaintiff in
Doe ex rel. Doe v. Haley, 2013 WL 6834598 (D.S.C. 2013). The plaintiff in Doe
was a 14-year-old child who suffered from attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD). Id. at *2. In that case, the court found special
circumstances existing which warranted the plaintiff's attorney's presence
during the mental exam. Id. However, the attorney was strictly ordered not to
interfere in the examination and the court left the door open to a second round
of examination if the first IME was cut short by the attorney's actions. Id.
Here, S.L. is nearly the age of legal majority and no party has asserted that she
has trouble paying attention, a condition that might skew the exam results.
Both sides have considerable gravity to their positions. However, the
entire purpose of the mental IME may be thwarted by having a third party
present. The potential harm to S.L. can be ameliorated by several prophylactic
conditions. Given that plaintiff acknowledges the propriety of having a mental
IME, the court will not order one to take place under conditions which would
nullify the results. Additionally, defendants' concession that they will video
and audio record the IME adds another layer of protection of S.L.
The situation presented to this court is not unlike the facts presented in
the Newman case, supra. Newman wanted to have third party observer with
her in her mental IME as she declared she would probably "freak out and have
a nervous breakdown" if she had to undergo the exam alone. Newman, 272
F.R.D. at 513. She believed the testing would be psychologically painful for
her. Id. Newman, like S.L., had some serious diagnoses, including posttraumatic stress disorder and psychotic disorder. Id. at 508. The court
declined to allow a support person to accompany Newman into the exam room,
but ordered that the support person may be nearby during the exam and that
Newman would be allowed to visit with her support person during breaks as
needed. Id. at 514. This compromise position preserved the integrity of the
exam and its results, while allowing Newman the security of knowing she had a
support person nearby. Id.
Similarly, S.L. will not be allowed to have a third party present in the
examination room with her and Dr. Mack. However, at the beginning of the
testing, a third party of S.L.'s choosing may be present during the
introductions. That third party must then leave the examination room and
may not be present during any portion of the exam.
The third party shall be allowed to remain in the immediate environs
outside the examination room, if S.L. so chooses. During the course of the day,
ten-minute breaks shall be taken every two hours, during which breaks S.L.
may visit outside the exam room with her chosen support person. See
Hertenstein v. Kimberly Home Health Care, Inc., 189 F.R.D. 620, 625-26
(D. Kan. 1999) (where entire mental IME was only two hours, plaintiff's
requests for breaks to consult with support person outside the room were
denied as unnecessary and disruptive). Alternatively, the breaks may occur at
some other intervals agreed upon by the parties. A one-hour lunch break shall
be taken and S.L. may spend her lunch time with her support person if she so
Cost of Mileage and Lost Wages
Generally, a plaintiff attending an IME in the forum he or she has chosen
for the litigation must pay his or her own travel expenses. Page v. Hertz Corp.,
2011 WL 5553489 at *6 (D.S.D. Nov. 15, 2011); McClosky v. United Parcel
Serv. Gen. Serv. Co., 171 F.R.D. 268, 270 (D. Ore. 1997). Where the travel
required to the site of the IME is similar to the distance a plaintiff would have
to travel to the forum, plaintiffs have even been required to bear the cost of the
travel to an out-of-jurisdiction IME. Page, 2011 WL 5553489 at *7; Reed v.
Marley, 321 S.W.2d 193, 195 (Ark. 1959). Here, plaintiff chose Sioux Falls to
file her lawsuit in. The distance between her home and her chosen forum is
104 miles, less than a two-hour drive. The court will not, under these
circumstances, order defendants to pay plaintiff for cost of travel or lost wages.
Based on the foregoing law, facts, and analysis, it is hereby
ORDERED that defendants' motion to compel [Docket No. 81] is granted.
The parties shall arrange a mutually-convenient date and time for Dr. Mack to
conduct his mental IME of S.L. in Sioux Falls in accordance with the
conditions set forth in the body of this opinion. It is further
RECOMMENDED to the district court that the scheduling order in this
matter be amended so as to allow for the mental IME of S.L. within 30 days
from the date of this opinion.
NOTICE OF RIGHT TO APPEAL
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 636(b)(1)(A), any party may seek reconsideration
of this order before the district court upon a showing that the order is clearly
erroneous or contrary to law. The parties have fourteen (14) days after service
of this order to file written objections pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ' 636(b)(1)(A),
unless an extension of time for good cause is obtained. See FED. R. CIV. P.
72(a); 28 U.S.C. ' 636(b)(1)(A). Failure to file timely objections will result in
the waiver of the right to appeal questions of fact. Id. Objections must be
timely and specific in order to require review by the district court. Thompson
v. Nix, 897 F.2d 356 (8th Cir. 1990); Nash v. Black, 781 F.2d 665 (8th Cir.
DATED October 10, 2017.
BY THE COURT:
VERONICA L. DUFFY
United States Magistrate Judge
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