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House Bill 3375 becomes effective November 1, 2014.  It is procedural in nature, so it will immediately apply in all cases on November 1, 2014, regardless of when they were filed or when the cause of action accrued.

House Bill 3375 amends 12 O.S. § 3226(A)(1) by including that parties may obtain discovery “regarding any matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense” by one or more of the following methods: . . . .  The quoted provision was added to explicitly provide discovery can be conducted concerning any relevant issue.

The new law also includes additional discovery methods.  Section 3226(A) will now include “authorizations for release of records; and otherwise by court order upon showing of good cause.”  It has been the practice of defense attorneys to seek medical releases and the release of records by court order.  This statute expressly authorizes the procedure.

A more beneficial provision from an efficiency standpoint relates to the voluntary production of medical releases.  House Bill 3375 adds that releases to obtain records shall be provided by a plaintiff with his or her 12 O.S. § 3226(A)(2)(a) initial disclosures made within 60 days after service of the original Petition.  In particular, when physical or mental injury is claimed “the party making the claim shall provide to the other parties a release or authorization allowing the parties to obtain relevant medical records and bills, and, when relevant, a release or authorization for employment and scholastic records” as part of their initial disclosures.  If school records are also relevant to a party’s claim, a plaintiff will be required to provide a release to a defendant within 60 days of service of the original petition for those records also.

House Bill 3375 should drastically reduce the difficulties, time, and expense defense lawyers regularly incur to obtain releases or court orders to obtain records.