CPLR § 3101(d)(1)(i) provides that each party must submit separate statements “identify[ing] each person whom the party expects to call as an expert witness at trial and shall disclose in reasonable detail the subject matter on which each expert is expected to testify, the substance of the facts and opinions on which each expert is expected to testify, the qualifications of each expert witness and a summary of the grounds for each expert's opinion.” (Id.; see also, Carter v. Isabella Geriatric Ctr., Inc. (2009) 118304/04, 1, 4.)
The party seeking to compel the expert statement may do so by order to show cause, for an order to compel plaintiff to provide adequate and sufficient expert disclosure, pursuant to C.P.L.R. § 3101 (d) or, alternatively, to preclude plaintiff from presenting any expert testimony and dismissing the complaint. (Carter v. Isabella Geriatric Ctr., Inc. (2009) 118304/04, 1, 4.)
The moving party must first satisfy the threshold requirement that the disclosure sought is “material and necessary,” whether the request is directed to a party or a nonparty. (Kooper v. Kooper (2010) 74 A.D.3d 6, 11 citing CPLR 3101(a)(1), (4).) Entitlement to discovery of matter satisfying the threshold requirement is, however, tempered by the trial court's authority to impose, in its discretion, appropriate restrictions on demands which are “unduly burdensome” and to prevent abuse by issuing a protective order where the discovery request may cause “unreasonable annoyance, expense, embarrassment, disadvantage, or other prejudice to any person or the courts.” (Scalone v. Phelps Mem. Hosp. Ctr. (1992) 184 A.D.2d 65, 70; see also Kaye v. Kaye (1984) 102 A.D.2d 682, 691.)
Disclosure in New York civil actions is guided by the principle of “full disclosure of all matter material and necessary in the prosecution or defense of an action.” (Kooper v. Kooper (2010) 74 A.D.3d 6, 11 citing CPLR 3101(a).)
Although the statute neither define “reasonable detail,” nor sets forth precisely what the disclosure must include, the disclosure cannot be “so general and nonspecific that the requesting party is not enlightened as to any appreciable degree about the content of [the experts'] anticipated testimony.” (Syracuse v. Diao (2000) 272 A.D.2d 881, 881.)
Courts have found it sufficient for a party to set forth the subject matter of the expert's facts and opinions, the substance of those facts and opinions, and a summary of the grounds of the opinions (which may include citations to medical literature that the experts intend to rely on at trial). (Ex rel. Williams v. St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hosp. Center (2007) 16 Misc. 3d 688, 697.)
The phrase “material and necessary” is ”to be interpreted liberally to require disclosure, upon request, of any facts bearing on the controversy which will assist preparation for trial by sharpening the issues and reducing delay and prolixity. The test is one of usefulness and reason.” (Allen v Crowell-Collier Publ. Co. (1969) 21 N.Y.2d 403, 406; see Tower Ins. Co. of N.Y. v Murello (2009) 68 A.D.3d 977). The Court of Appeals' interpretation of "material and necessary" in Allen has been understood “to mean nothing more or less than `relevant.” (Connors, Practice Commentaries, McKinney's Cons Laws of NY, Book 7B, CPLR C3101:5).
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