Re K&L Auto Crushers LLC is a personal injury action against a truck driver and his employer (“K&L Auto”). The injured party, Kevin Walker (“Walker”), submitted a total of $1.2 million for surgeries and related treatment. K&L Auto served subpoenas on Walker and his medical provided due to the inflated and excessive medical bills claimed. The subpoenas were in the hunt for evidence about the nature of the injuries and detailed medical bills. The trial court quashed the subpoenas without explanation. K&L Auto moved for reconsideration, stating that it was willing to enter a protective order and narrow its requests. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court granted a writ of mandamus, holding that the information sought through K&L Auto’s unreasonable requests was relevant and that the trial court abused its discretion by completely denying discovery of that information.
The accident happened when both vehicles had stopped side-by-side in adjacent lanes that both permitted right turns. As the K&L Auto-driver made the turn from the left lane, his trailer’s passenger-side wheels caught the rear driver-side door of Walker’s car, which was still stopped in the right lane. The trailer dragged the vehicle a short distance before the trucker stopped, scraping, and tearing the sheet metal along the driver’s side of Walker’s car. After the accident, the parties took photos, exchanged information, and drove away without reporting any injuries. However, five months later, Walker underwent surgery on the cervical spine and shoulder to repair damages. K&L moved to get all the information about medical bills, but the Trial Court denied the request.
The Texas Supreme Court granted mandamus relief and held that the trial court abused its discretion by denying the requested discovery, holding that “the information we found relevant to the reasonableness of the provider’s rates in North Cypress is equally relevant here.” In the Supreme Court, plaintiffs argued that the information sought through K & L Auto’s subpoenas was not relevant. The requests were overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and sought confidential information protected as trade secrets. The Court considered each objection and determined the information was discoverable.
The Supreme Court further stated in the opinion that “K&L’s requests for production of information relating to billing practices and rates of healthcare providers that treated motorist, who alleged he was injured in a motor vehicle collision caused by company’s employee, were not unduly burdensome.” The Court stated that “where company’s requests were narrow, the reasonableness of $1.2 million in claimed medical expenses was central to company’s defense and depriving company of key information relevant to that issue would place the company at a significant disadvantage.” The Supreme court held in this case that the Trial Court abused its discretion by denying the requested discovery, as narrowed in K&L auto’s motion for reconsideration.
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