Saturday, December 7, 2013

Vinson v. Superior Court case brief

Vinson v. Superior Court case brief summary
740 P.2d 404 (1987)

In a sexual harassment case, plaintiff ex-employee challenged the decision of the Superior Court of Alameda County (California), which granted defendant employer's motion compelling plaintiff to undergo a examination to test the true extent of her injuries. Plaintiff then sought review of the Court of Appeals decision denying her writ of prohibition.

After plaintiff ex-employee was fired by defendant ex-employer, she filed a complaint against alleging sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Defendant filed a motion to compel plaintiff to undergo a medical and psychological examination to test the extent of her injuries and to measure her work abilities. After the trial court granted defendant's motion, plaintiff petitioned the appellate court for a writ of prohibition to direct the trial court to forbid the examination, claiming that it violated her right to privacy. The appellate court denied plaintiff's petition.

The supreme court reversed the appellate court's decision with directions to issue a peremptory writ of mandate compelling the trial court to limit the scope of the mental examination.

The supreme court held that mere initiation of a sexual harassment suit, even with the extreme mental and emotional damage being asserted by plaintiff, did not act as waiver of all plaintiff's privacy rights, exposing her to unfettered mental probing by defendant's experts. The court further found that plaintiff's attorney was not required to be present during the mental examination.

The supreme court reversed the appellate court's decision denying plaintiff ex-employee's petition which sought to compel the trial court to limit the scope of defendant ex-employer's mental examination of her. The supreme court held that to allow defendant an unfettered examination of plaintiff would violate her rights to privacy.

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