Injured woman's case dismissed for refusal to execute record copy authorizations allowing access to employment and medical records
Tamara Filas filed a claim against her auto insurer, MEEMIC, seeking payment of Personal Injury Protection [PIP] benefits. When an injury claim is filed, Michigan Court Rules allow the defendant and his attorney and insurer virtually unlimited access to the individual's medical records. If wage or employment issues are raised, the defendants are also allowed complete access to current and historical employment records.
Ms. Filas objected to such unlimited access and apparently disagreed with her attorneys' advice about how to manage access. Ultimately, there were changes of lawyers, dismissal and re-filing of her case, stipulations to allow discovery, and long delays. Eventually, the Court reduced the issue to Filas' willingness to execute authorizations allowing a third-pary copying service to collect and distribute the records: since the service wasn't a "party" within the definition of the pertinent Court Rule, Filas refused to execute the authorization.
The trial judge dismissed Filas' case and she appealed. The Court of Appeals upheld the decision, relying primarily upon the fact that previously Filas' attorney had stipulated to the use of the record copy service in an attempt to resolve the discovery dispute. The Court held that Filas was bound by this agreement. It also noted that the authorizations used by the service had been revised to provide more privacy protection than was originally allowed.