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Nonparty Discovery in Georgia

by merlin on May 3rd, 2012
  • Sumo

This is not a topic that I had directly confronted  before, but it is something that has been peripherally present in many cases in the past.  However, it is very advantageous to pursue in a case at the time so I post more about it here for anyone who confronts this issue themselves.

It is important to note that the only Discovery provision of the Georgia Code that allows Discovery steps taken against nonparties is Section 9-11-34 (inspection of documents and land).  Subsection (c) provides explicitly at subsection (1) that “[t]his Code section shall also be applicable with respect to discovery against persons, firms, or corporations who are not parties, in which event a copy of the request shall be served upon all parties of record; or, upon notice, the party desiring such discovery may proceed by taking the deposition of the person, firm, or corporation on oral examination or upon written questions under Code Section 9-11-30 or 9-11-31. The nonparty or any party may file an objection as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section. If the party desiring such discovery moves for an order under subsection (a) of Code Section 9-11-37 to compel discovery, he or she shall make a showing of good cause to support his or her motion. The party making a request under this Code section shall, upon request from any other party to the action, make all reasonable efforts to cause all information produced in response to the nonparty request to be made available to all parties. A reasonable document copying charge may be required.”

Subsection (2) explicitly makes the section applicable to “practitioners of the healing arts”.  Having looked further into this, this is a common sense idea to get medical records, which is pretty necessary in many cases (especially automobile accidents and medical malpractice cases, among others).  Subsection (3) is a protection against liability for the facilities or “practitioners of the healing arts” that disclose these records.

Note, though, that the two other very common Discovery tools used – Requests to Admit and Interrogatories – are only applicable against other parties in an action.  They don’t appear to have an explicit statutory applicability to nonparties (although there is presumably a way to obtain this Discovery, as well, by express direction of the Court to the nonparty).

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