Horvitz & Levy filed a writ petition that convinced the California Court of Appeal to stay trial court proceedings and to issue an alternative writ requiring the trial court to either vacate its order requiring our client to submit to an involuntary mental examination or show cause why a writ of mandate should not issue. The trial court vacated the order.
In this personal injury action, plaintiff sued our client after our client’s vehicle struck plaintiff while she was walking across a residential street. Even though our client testified at deposition that the accident occurred because she could not see with the sun in her eyes, plaintiff theorized that our client may have been unfit to drive on the day of the accident because she might have been experiencing residual symptoms from a traumatic brain injury she had suffered more than five years before. Based on that theory, the trial court granted plaintiff’s request for an order compelling our client to submit to a mental examination under Code of Civil Procedure sections 2032.310 and 2032.320.
Horvitz & Levy LLP was retained to seek writ relief in the Court of Appeal. Our writ petition argued that the trial court’s order was an abuse of discretion under the statutes governing mental examinations because our client had not placed her mental condition in controversy and because the plaintiff lacked good cause for an order compelling an involuntary mental examination. We also argued that the trial court’s failure to balance our client’s constitutional right to privacy against the need for the discovery was itself an independent reason for granting writ relief. The Court of Appeal granted our request for an immediate stay of all trial court proceedings and ultimately issued an alternative writ requiring the trial court to either (1) set aside and vacate the order requiring our client to submit to a mental examination, or (2) show cause before the Court of Appeal why a writ of mandate should not issue. After holding a hearing, the trial court vacated the order and denied plaintiff’s request for an order compelling a mental examination.