Egan v Castlerea Co-Operative Livestock Mart Ltd

JudgeMr. Justice Twomey
Judgment Date17 January 2023
Neutral Citation[2023] IEHC 16
CourtHigh Court
Docket NumberRecord No. 2020/2693P
James Egan
Castlerea Co-Operative Livestock Mart Ltd

[2023] IEHC 16

Record No. 2020/2693P


JUDGMENT OF Mr. Justice Twomey delivered on the 17 th day of January, 2023


. Should a plaintiff in a personal injuries case be entitled to deny a defendant sight of his post-accident medical records, even though these are the best evidence of the alleged injuries? In this case, the plaintiff claims that he is entitled to restrict the defendant to having sight of the Medical Report, upon which the plaintiff is relying to support his claim for damages, and not have sight of all his post-accident medical records.


. As noted by Clarke C.J. in Tobin v. Minister for Defence [2020] 1 I.R. 211 at para. 7.3 ‘ discovery can also play a role in keeping parties honest’. In Tobin, the discovery was being sought against a defendant, here it is a plaintiff. Thus, the issue in this case is whether the courts should order discovery of post-accident medical records (rather than just the Medical Report which the plaintiff wishes to rely upon) in order to keep the plaintiff ‘honest’ in pursuing his claim for personal injuries?


. The case itself concerns a claim by the plaintiff (“Mr. Egan”) against the defendant (the “Mart”) for personal injuries, arising from damage to the shin of his left leg sustained from a bullock on the 13 th November, 2017. Although seeking damages from the Mart for these injuries, Mr. Egan claims that he does not have to provide all his medical records from after the accident (even though these medical records should evidence the injury for which he claims damages). Rather he claims that the Mart is only entitled to have a copy of the Medical Report from the consultant, which he proposes to rely upon to support his claim for damages.


. Since discovery of documents is ordered on the basis of the relevance of the documents, it is difficult to see why, applying general principles, a plaintiff, who is seeking damages for injuries caused by the defendant, would not be happy to disclose to the defendant all his medical records, which evidence those injuries. However, while Mr. Egan is willing to disclose his pre-accident medical records, he is refusing to disclose his post-accident medical records. This is despite the fact that it is clear that his post-accident medical records are more likely to be relevant to the proceedings than pre-accident records. This is because the records from after the accident should evidence the injuries sustained in the accident, while those from before the accident clearly will not. Nonetheless, Mr. Egan is only willing to disclose his pre-accident medical records and hence the need for this pre-trial application for him to disclose his post-accident medical records.


. Counsel for Mr. Egan did not argue that the post-accident medical records are not relevant, but he argued that it was not necessary to disclose them to the defendant. He claimed that it was not necessary for a plaintiff such as Mr. Egan to disclose all his post-accident medical records because of the obligation upon a plaintiff to provide the defendant with copies of the Medical Reports of any expert, who the plaintiff intended to call to give evidence in support of his claim for damages. He also supported his view, that it was not necessary to disclose all the plaintiff's medical records, by the fact the defendant could cross-examine the medical expert on the contents of his Medical Report. 6. For the reasons set out below, this Court does not believe that the fact that a plaintiff will provide a defendant with a Medical Report from the consultant he chooses to rely upon for his claim for damages, is sufficient reason for a defendant to be deprived of all the other medical records of the plaintiff. These medical records will provide the best evidence regarding the medical condition of the plaintiff after the accident and they will also deal with the key issue in many personal injury cases, i.e. which of the plaintiff's complaints are related to the accident and which relate to other medical issues, whether pre-accident or post-accident. In addition, as noted by Clarke C.J., the disclosure of a plaintiff's medical records has a role in keeping that party honest in the claim for damages. This is particularly relevant in personal injury claims, since 97% of those claims settle and such settlements will invariably be on the basis of discovery and so without there being any cross examination of medical experts.


. Mr. Egan sustained injuries to the shin of his left leg from a bullock at the Mart and a subsequent x-ray revealed swelling and bruising to his leg. In his Personal Injuries Summons dated 15 th April, 2020, he claims damages for ‘ongoing leg pain’. In his updated Particulars of Personal Injuries dated 9 th February, 2022, Mr. Egan refers to ongoing lower back pain resulting from the accident. In the Notice for Particulars dated 1 st March, 2021, the Mart asked Mr. Egan:

“Please confirm if the plaintiff has ever suffered any injury of any nature howsoever arising either prior to or subsequent to the incident the subject matter of these proceedings regardless as to whether a claim was pursued.”

In his Replies to Particulars dated 9 th February, 2022, Mr. Egan stated:

“This particular is so broad as to be oppressive on the Plaintiff. Notwithstanding this, the Plaintiff would say he was involved in a road traffic accident in October 1999. He was in a parked van when he was struck from behind by another vehicle. He brought personal injuries proceedings which were compromised in or about 2003/2004.

The plaintiff has a history of back pain and L4/L5 disc bulge. He underwent spinal surgery in the 1980s.”

In the Mart's discovery motion before this Court, the Mart sought:

“All documentation in respect of treatment received for any back or leg pain or symptom from the 1 st January 2012”.

After the issue of the motion, but prior to the hearing, Mr. Egan agreed to provide this documentation up to the date of the accident. Accordingly, this Court is only concerned with discovery of post-accident medical records, i.e. after 13 th November, 2017.

Post-accident medical records

. In relation to post-accident medical records, in its discovery motion the Mart seeks:

“All documentation in respect of treatment received since the date of the accident, the subject matter of these proceedings”.

At the hearing, Mr. Egan confirmed his refusal to provide this discovery, although he indicated that he would provide details of ‘initial medical attendances’.


. In its letter seeking voluntary discovery dated 14 th February, 2022, the Mart outlined the reasons it needed the pre-accident and the post-accident discovery. It referred to the updated Particulars of Personal Injuries, dated 9 th February, 2022, received from Mr. Egan outlining details of his ongoing back pain, allegedly caused by the accident. The letter for voluntary discovery refers to these updated particulars and notes that Mr. Egan attended a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and had an MRI of his lumbar spine demonstrating compression of his L5 nerve root. According to the Mart's letter seeking discovery, this led to Mr. Egan's consultant concluding:

“[A] dual pathology as the most likely source of the ongoing pain, the sequalae of the soft tissue injury sustained November 2017 and referred pain from the compression of the left L5 nerve root.”

This letter also states that in March 2020, Mr. Egan's GP was:

“[O]f the view that the L5 nerve root have been aggravated by the trauma received in November 2017”.

In addition, the Mart states in this letter that it wants discovery of Mr. Egan's post-accident and pre-accident medical records because it regards it as vital to understand the nature and extent of the difficulties experienced by Mr. Egan in his left leg due to the L5 nerve root compression prior to the accident.


. The Mart also points out in this letter that the discovery will allow them to cross reference Mr. Egan's pleading with his medical treatment and examine to what extent there is an overlap of complaint of the previous medical history and the alleged injuries. At the hearing, counsel for the Mart re-iterated that it wished to have the post-accident medical records in order to determine which of Mr. Egan's complaints are attributable to the accident and which are not, and the extent of the overlap between the pre-accident and post-accident injuries.

Are post-accident medical records relevant?

. The key factor in determining whether the post-accident medical records are discoverable is whether they are relevant and necessary for the fair disposal of the matter.


. At the level of principle, where a defendant is being sued by a plaintiff claiming damages for his injuries, the starting point must be what could be more relevant than the plaintiff's medical records of those injuries from after the accident? After all, these medical records relate to the injuries which are the subject of the claim and so those medical records should clearly show the extent of the injuries for which a plaintiff is claiming damages (the ‘accident injuries’). Those medical records, namely contemporaneous hospital admission notes, GP notes, x-rays, MRIs, consultant's notes etc, would seem to be the best evidence of those injuries.


. In addition, at the level of principle, those post-accident medical records may also show other medical issues/injuries, which arose after the accident (‘post-accident injuries’), which overlap with the accident injuries, but which have no connection with the accident. The extent to which the accident injuries and post-accident injuries (if any) overlap, and the extent to which they may assist the defendant in resisting a claim for damages, can only be determined when those post-accident...

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1 cases
  • Egan v Castlerea Co-Operative Livestock Mart Ltd
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 9 October 2023
    ...treatment records only. High Court Judgment 10 . Twomey J. delivered judgment allowing the discovery sought on 17 January 2023 [2023] IEHC 16. The plaintiff takes issue with the way in which the trial judge framed the issue before the court and indeed with much of the tenor of the judgment.......

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