Bourne v. City of Middletown
A District Court may order a plaintiff to undergo a mental examination if: 1.) the plaintiff alleges intentional or negligent infliction of emotional distress; 2.) the plaintiff alleges a specific mental or psychiatric injury or disorder; 3.) the plaintiff alleges unusually severe emotional distress; 4.) the plaintiff offers expert testimony, to support the plaintiff's claim of emotional distress; and 5.) the plaintiff admits that the plaintiff's mental condition is in controversy. The plaintiff, Christine Bourne, alleged that board of education administrators who opposed her appointment to payroll supervisor retaliated after she won the appointment in October 2008. The plaintiff sued the City of Middletown and the Middletown Board of Education in Superior Court, alleging that the defendants violated her due-process and First Amendment rights and Connecticut General Statutes §§31-51q and 31-51m. The city removed the suit to District Court. The plaintiff disclosed medical records from her doctor and Jessica Backer-Wilde, a mental health clinician. The defendants moved to compel the production of the plaintiff's independent psychological evaluation. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 35(a)(1) provides, "The court where the action is pending may order a party whose mental or physical condition . . . is in controversy to submit to a physical or mental examination." Although the plaintiff's complaint alleged that the plaintiff suffered emotional distress, and the plaintiff disclosed medical records and permitted the defendants to depose a mental health clinician, Jessica Backer-Wilde, the plaintiff did not admit that her mental condition was "in controversy," pursuant to Rule 35. The court relied on the plaintiff's representation that she will not offer expert testimony to support her emotional-distress claim. Kaytor v. Electric Boat Corp., a 2007 decision, in which the District Court granted the defendant's motion to compel a mental examination, was not directly on point, because in Kaytor the plaintiff's complaint alleged severe emotional distress for which the plaintiff requested damages of $10 million. The District Court denied the defendant's motion to compel.