We have all seen applicant attorneys issue subpoenas for records. These subpoenas often relate to medical records which were served by either the claims examiner or the defense attorney. Furthermore, it is common to see that applicant had previously signed a release for the records in question. Nevertheless, applicant attorneys will issue the subpoena and the result is duplicate services and a lien claim which must be defended.
One of the difficulties in defending a lien for duplicate copy service charges is the fact that applicant attorneys fail to disclose to their copy service company that the records sought have either been provided by defendant in the past or were previously subpoenaed by the defendant. Thus, the copy service has no knowledge that its services are duplicative in nature. This is why it is extremely important for the claims examiner to immediately object to the services and send the subpoena to his/her attorney.
Fortunately, there is a writ-denied case out of the First District Court of Appeals that has considered this issue. In Kim Taylor v. WCAB, the Court denied applicant’s Petition for Writ of Review and WCJ’s findings and opinions survived. Applicant’s attorney issued a subpoena for medical records which were previously served by the defense attorney. It should also be noted that applicant had signed a release for the records in question. Applicant’s attorney contended he should be reimbursed for all costs associated in obtaining the medical records. It was also argued that the costs should be allowed due to a five month delay in service of the records by defense counsel. The WCJ, relying on the fact that the records were served by the defense attorney as well as the fact applicant had authorized their release, concluded that costs associated with copying the actual records were reimbursable. However, all costs associated with preparation and service of the subpoenas were denied.
The bottom line is that medical records should be served on applicant attorneys with proof of when the service occurred and any subpoenas for duplicate services should be immediately objected to.