The independent medical examination (IME) is a staple of products liability cases. Yet many little-known nuances of these exams can pose pitfalls in arranging, or responding to, requests for such examinations. This article identifies some of those challenges and provides strategies for addressing them.
The first issue to consider is the legal standard applicable to a request for an IME. Most states have a statute or court rule setting forth what a defendant must show to obtain an IME, but the defendant's burden of proof varies in three primary ways. In Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas, the defendant must always show good cause to obtain an order requiring the plaintiff to appear for an IME. California, Connecticut, and Oklahoma require good cause only in non–personal injury suits, and provide for an IME as a matter of right in products liability cases where the plaintiff has placed his or her physical status at issue. Illinois, New Jersey, and New York simply provide for an IME as a matter of right where the physical or mental condition of a party is in controversy.