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Negligence: Malfunctioning Hospital Bed-Discovery of Settlement Documents

Petitioners sought a writ prohibiting discovery of settlement documents. Petitioner Kristine Hill was recovering from back surgery when her hospital bed allegedly malfunctioned, injuring her back and spine. Six months later, she was in a motor vehicle accident that allegedly aggravated those injuries. She ultimately settled her accident claim with the at-fault driver for an undisclosed sum of money. Petitioners then sued the hospital, alleging that it was negligent in failing to maintain the hospital bed. The hospital asserted the affirmative defense of reduction and sought discovery of the settlement documents from the motor vehicle accident case. The trial court granted the hospital’s motion to compel, over petitioners’ objection that the documents constituted attorney work product.

Where petitioners waived work product privilege for the documents by disclosing them to the at-fault driver’s insurer, the trial court correctly granted the hospital’s motion to compel production of the documents.

Preliminary writ quashed.

Hill v. Wallach (MLW No. 79622/Case No. SC99650 – 10 pages) (Supreme Court of Missouri, Wilson, J.) Original Proceeding in Prohibition. (Patrick R. Dowd and Eric D. Holland, St. Louis, for petitioners) (Dennis S. Harms, Mary Anne Mellow, and Timothy C. Sansone, St. Louis, for respondent)