Saturday, December 28, 2013

Schlagenhauf v. Holder

Schlagenhauf v. Holder case brief summary
379 U.S. 104 (1964)

Petitioner bus driver appealed a judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which denied his request for a writ of mandamus to compel respondent district court judge to set aside an order in a negligence action requiring mental and physical examinations of the bus driver under Fed. R. Civ. P. 35(a).

Bus passengers injured when a bus struck a tractor-trailer sued the bus owner, the bus driver, the tractor-trailer owners, and the tractor-trailer driver. The tractor-trailer owners petitioned for examination of the bus driver under Fed. R. Civ. P. 35. The district court ordered the examinations. The bus driver sought a writ of mandamus setting aside the district court judge's order. The court of appeals denied mandamus.


  • On certiorari, the court vacated the court of appeal's judgment and remanded to the district court, holding that: 
  • (1) the court of appeals had power to review on the petition for mandamus the basic, undecided question of whether the district court could order the examinations; 
  • (2) Rule 35 was constitutional and within the scope of the Rules Enabling Act; 
  • (3) a district court had power to order the examination of a party defendant under Rule 35, even on the application of a codefendant, but lacked power to order examination of nonparties; and 
  • (4) the tractor-trailer owners failed to make the necessary showing that the bus driver's physical or mental condition was in controversy or that good cause was shown for the examinations as required by Rule 35.
The court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals and remanded the case to the district court to reconsider the examination order and for further proceedings.

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