Lawyer for Non-Party Witnesses? No. (CPLR R. 3113)

CPLR R. 3113. Conduct of the examination

This decision was first posted over at No-Fault Defender, but received more thorough treatment over at the New York Personal Injury Blog.  Head over to both.  Make sure to read the comments at NYPIB.

Thompson v Mather, 2010 NY Slip Op 01239 (App. Div., 4th, 2010)

We agree with plaintiff that counsel for a nonparty witness does not have a right to object during or otherwise to participate in a pre-trial deposition. CPLR 3113 (c) provides that the examination and cross-examination of deposition witnesses "shall proceed as permitted in the trial of actions in open court." Although counsel for the physicians correctly conceded at oral argument of plaintiff's motion in Supreme Court that she had no right to object during or to participate in the trial of this action, she nevertheless asserted that she was entitled to object during nonparty depositions and videotaped deposition questioning. We cannot agree that there is such a distinction, based on the express language of CPLR 3113 (c). Indeed, we discern no distinction between trial testimony and pre-trial videotaped deposition testimony presented at trial. We note in addition that 22 NYCRR 202.15, which concerns videotaped recordings of civil depositions, refers only to objections by the parties during the course of the deposition in the subdivision entitled "Filing and objections" (see 22 NYCRR 202.15 [g] [1], [2]). We thus conclude that plaintiff is entitled to take the videotaped depositions of the physicians and that counsel for those physicians is precluded from objecting during or otherwise participating in the videotaped depositions.

Lastly, we note that the practice of conditioning the videotaping of depositions of nonparty witnesses to be presented at trial upon the provision of general releases is repugnant to the fundamental obligation of every citizen to participate in our civil trial courts and to provide truthful trial testimony when called to the witness stand. Contrary to nonparty respondents' contention, the fact that the statute of limitations has not expired with respect to a nonparty treating physician witness for the care that he or she provided to a plaintiff provides no basis for such a condition.
The bold is mine.

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