Kennedy v. Municipality of Anchorage

[TORT LAW]

In Kennedy v. Municipality of Anchorage,[1] the supreme court held that “garden-variety” mental anguish claims do not waive physician and psychotherapist privileges.[2] Two former police officers brought claims against the Municipality of Anchorage for racial discrimination, claiming damages for mental anguish.[3] The Municipality sought discovery concerning the nature of the officers’ mental anguish claims, requesting the officers’ medical and counseling records.[4] Subsequently, the lower court granted the Municipality’s motion to compel.[5] On appeal, the officers argued that claims for the sort of mental anguish that any normal person would experience under the circumstances did not place their emotional conditions at issue, and, accordingly, did not waive the privilege that protected these records during discovery.[6] The supreme court reversed the lower court’s decision, reasoning that although discovery of a patient’s medical records may be compelled when serious psychological conditions such as depression are claimed, similar compulsion would not be granted for garden-variety mental anguish claims, such as claims of anger, disappointment and sadness.[7] Reversing the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that “garden-variety” mental anguish claims do not waive physician and psychotherapist privileges.[8]

 



[1] 305 P.3d 1284 (Alaska 2013).

[2] Id. at 1284.

[3] Id. at 1285.

[4] Id. at 1286.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at 1287.

[7] Id. at 1290–92.

[8] Id. at 1284.

Kennedy v. Municipality of Anchorage

[TORT LAW]

In Kennedy v. Municipality of Anchorage,[1] the supreme court held that “garden-variety” mental anguish claims do not waive physician and psychotherapist privileges.[2] Two former police officers brought claims against the Municipality of Anchorage for racial discrimination, claiming damages for mental anguish.[3] The Municipality sought discovery concerning the nature of the officers’ mental anguish claims, requesting the officers’ medical and counseling records.[4] Subsequently, the lower court granted the Municipality’s motion to compel.[5] On appeal, the officers argued that claims for the sort of mental anguish that any normal person would experience under the circumstances did not place their emotional conditions at issue, and, accordingly, did not waive the privilege that protected these records during discovery.[6] The supreme court reversed the lower court’s decision, reasoning that although discovery of a patient’s medical records may be compelled when serious psychological conditions such as depression are claimed, similar compulsion would not be granted for garden-variety mental anguish claims, such as claims of anger, disappointment and sadness.[7] Reversing the lower court’s decision, the supreme court held that “garden-variety” mental anguish claims do not waive physician and psychotherapist privileges.[8]

 



[1] 305 P.3d 1284 (Alaska 2013).

[2] Id. at 1284.

[3] Id. at 1285.

[4] Id. at 1286.

[5] Id.

[6] Id. at 1287.

[7] Id. at 1290–92.

[8] Id. at 1284.