Discovery Process in the McKinney Dog Bite Case
In this dog bite case, we filed a request for production on behalf of our client. The request for production is a series of requests to produce specific documents or to gain access to specific property that we do not have access to. Typically, it is to get production of documents that the other side has or the other side has the ability to demand from third parties.
For instance, if the defendant has a third-party vendor that maintains things for the defendant, we could get that through a request for production. In dog attack cases, requests for production are critical, because we want to show the owner’s knowledge of the propensity of the dog to be violent and often that is found in the records.
Requests for production are done every time in these cases as soon as they are filed. In my firm, we are aggressive with discovery. As soon as the lawsuit is answered, we file a request for production of documents immediately. Sometimes we do it when we file a lawsuit. Other times, we do it as soon as the answer comes in. It is done right away, so we are able to craft what else we need to do in discovery based on the answers that we get.
In this case, we requested the dog’s veterinarian records. We requested the records from the city that the dog owner would have received. That was critical in this particular case, because the defense objected to that. When one has objections to information that is plainly relevant and something that they should have, it leads the attorney to believe that the information could be critical to showing liability.
We were able to file motions regarding the veterinarian records, which led to an admission that this dog was supposed to be under quarantine at the time from a prior dog bite. In this case, the dog was not quarantined at the time it bit our client but should have been. This evidence was critical evidence to develop the potential for exemplary damages or punishment damages in this case..
Requesting the Medical Records
We also requested and produced the medical records that are well outside of the relevant medical records or of the actual injury. Many times requests are for all past medical records. Sometimes they are not even limited by time or by scope in any way, shape, or form. Those we object to routinely to limit the scope and the timing so that the records that we produce are related to what had occurred in the case. In this particular case, my injured party had her leg torn up by a dog.
We review all of the medical records to make sure that objectionable material, like social security numbers, are blacked out or taken out of the records that are produced. We are always on the lookout to make sure that irrelevant material, like irrelevant disease processes, are not brought in or disclosed to the defendant because those could be used to hurt or embarrass the plaintiff.
In every serious injury case, the medical records that support the injury are going to have to be produced. Medical cost issues were produced, as well.
Producing Documents to the Defendant
The plaintiff also had to produce documents for the defendant during the discovery process. Normally whenever an attorney files discovery, requests for production, or interrogatory-answering and disclosure requests of the other side of sides, they almost immediately fire back requests of the plaintiff. We want our opponents to see the damages that their client inflicted and what to show them just how easily the attack could have and should have been avoided. When maintaining a civil action against someone, we need to be able to turn over all of the non-privileged parts of the file and be able to win anyway.
Requests for Disclosure
In Texas, we routinely file what we call requests for disclosure. It is a one-paragraph request and done in every case both by the plaintiffs and the defendants. Disclosure requires certain categories of things to be disclosed, such as any insurance coverage, what the coverage is, and the listing of all the medical care providers. It is part of listing out the economic damages.
If we are going to have economic damages from an expert like an economist, which we had in this particular case, we have to list out the method of calculation of those damages and what those damages are going to be. That is done by disclosure and it is conducted upfront in the case. By being proactive and developing and producing the relevant evidence, it gives the defendant less excuse to try and delay the case and speeds the ultimate resolution of the case.