Do special reasons exist?

A plaintiff sought orders from the Supreme Court that the defendant answer additional interrogatories in a matter that was listed for hearing in a few days.

The proceedings involved an alleged failure to transfer the plaintiff’s mother to a tertiary hospital for appropriate antenatal management prior to the premature delivery of the plaintiff in January 2004. The further interrogatories related to whether transfer of the plaintiff’s mother was considered by medical staff as well as what previous experience doctors had in requesting transfers to the tertiary hospital in question.

Statements of the doctors involved had already been served which stated that in each of the doctor’s opinion transfer to a tertiary hospital was not warranted.

The Court noted that as the doctors did not consider that transfer was indicated, it was completely irrelevant what experience a doctor had in seeking the transfer of other patients to the tertiary hospital. As a result the Court concluded that the additional interrogatories would not assist to resolve the issues in dispute and therefore refused to order the interrogatories be answered.

What will of course be determined at the hearing is whether the defendant’s decision not to transfer to a tertiary hospital was appropriate.

This decision is a reminder that, when considering whether special reasons exist for interrogatories, it is necessary to have regard to the precise issues in dispute.

Reference: Coffey v Murrumbidgee Local Health District formerly known as Greater Murray Area Health Service [2017] NSWSC 1512

Post by Karen Kumar

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