Union Pacific Railway Co. v. Botsford - 141 U.S. 250 (1891)
U.S. Supreme Court
Union Pacific Railway Co. v. Botsford, 141 U.S. 250 (1891)
Union Pacific Railway Company v. Botsford
Submitted January 6, 1891
Decided May 25, 1891
141 U.S. 250
A court of the United States cannot order a plaintiff in an action for an injury to the person, to submit to a surgical examination in advance of the trial.
The original action was by Clara L. Botsford against the union Pacific Railway Company for negligence in the construction and care of an upper berth in a sleeping car in which she was a passenger, by reason of which the berth fell upon her head, bruising and wounding her, rupturing the membranes of the brain and spinal cord, and causing a concussion of the same, resulting in great suffering and pain to her in body and mind, and in permanent and increasing injuries. Answer, a general denial.
Three days before the trial (as appeared by the defendant's bill of exceptions)
"the defendant moved the court for an order against the plaintiff, requiring her to submit to a surgical examination in the presence of her own surgeon and attorneys, if she desired their presence, it being proposed by the defendant that such examination should be made in manner not to expose the person of the plaintiff in any indelicate manner, the defendant at the time informing the court that such examination was necessary to enable a correct diagnosis of the case, and that without such examination the defendant would be with out any witnesses as to her condition. The court overruled said motion and refused to make said order upon the sole ground that this Court had no legal right or power to make and enforce such order."
To this ruling and action of the court the defendant duly excepted, and after a trial at which the plaintiff and other witnesses testified in her behalf, and which resulted in a verdict and judgment for her in the sum of $10,000, sued out this writ of error.