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McLaughlin v. Atlantic City

April 10, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joel Schneider United States Magistrate Judge

[Doc. No. 57]


This matter is before the Court on plaintiff's Motion to Compel the Mental Examination of Defendant Domenic Raddi Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 35. [Doc. No. 57]. The motion is opposed by Officer Raddi [Doc. No. 58], the City of Atlantic City and Arthur C. Snellbacker (Atlantic City Police Commissioner) [Doc. No. 59]. For the reasons to be discussed, plaintiff's motion is DENIED.

The complaint in this matter was originally filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York but was transferred to this court on April 27, 2005. [Doc. No. 16]. In brief summary, plaintiff alleges that on October 12, 2003, Officer Raddi, among others, used excessive force in arresting him on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Officer Raddi argues that the incident in question "arises from a bachelor party for one of the Plaintiff's relatives that 'got out of hand'." (Brief at 1). Defendants allege that force was required to subdue the plaintiff due to the fact that plaintiff did not comply with the orders of the police and attempted to assault Officer Raddi. (Id.) In addition to the claim against Officer Raddi, plaintiff also sued the City of Atlantic City and another police officer, Michael Camp. Plaintiff alleges that Atlantic City failed to properly train, hire and supervise Officers Raddi and Camp. Plaintiff also alleges that Officer Raddi had a history of psychological problems that made him unfit to be a police officer and that this was well known to Atlantic City. (Id. at 2).

During the course of discovery plaintiff obtained psychiatric and psychological records from at least three medical professionals who treated and/or evaluated Officer Raddi: Dr. Amita Talati, Dr. Dorothy C. Saynisch and Dr. Gary Glass. These records comprise approximately fifty (50) pages of typed and handwritten notes documenting in detail numerous examinations and evaluations of Officer Raddi from March, 1996 to February, 2005. Dr. Talati met with Officer Raddi over several sessions between February and April of 2004. Officer Raddi was also seen by Dr. Saynisch for five sessions from March through July, 2004. According to plaintiff, Dr. Glass evaluated Officer Raddi on March 4, 1996 and February 7, 2005, "at the request of the Atlantic City Police Department in order to determine whether he suffered from any psychiatric or emotional condition that could impair his ability to function as a police officer." (Brief at 4).

In connection with its prosecution of this case plaintiff retained an expert in the field of psychiatry, Luciano Lizzi, M.D., J.D., to review Officer Raddi's records. Dr. Lizzi's February 19, 2007 letter to plaintiff's counsel reads as follows:

... I reviewed the psychiatric and psychological evaluations of Mr. Dominic Raddi as well as several legal documents. You had requested whether it would be necessary to perform a psychiatric evaluation of Mr. Raddi at this time. After a review of his records I believe a current psychiatric evaluation of Mr. Raddi is necessary. This is based on the fact that the evaluations by Amita Talati, MD and Dorothy C. Saynisch, Ph.D. are somewhat cursory and consequently an appreciation of Mr. Raddi's mental health condition can only be obtained by a more recent and more in depth evaluation.

Furthermore, I believe that the psychiatric evaluations by Gary Glass, MD, although thorough, were performed on March 4, 1996 and February 25, 2005, nearly ten years apart. His diagnoses differ with each report and also are at variance with Dr. Saynisch's evaluation.

Consequently I recommend a new evaluation of Mr. Raddi to clarify these issues.

See Exhibit E to Plaintiff's Brief. Plaintiff relies on Dr. Lizzi's letter to support his argument that this Court should order a psychiatric examination of Officer Raddi.


Plaintiff correctly points out that his request to compel the mental examination of Officer Raddi is controlled by Fed. R. Civ. P. 35(a) which reads:

When the mental or physical condition ... of a party ... is in controversy, the court in which the action is pending may order the party to submit to a physical or mental examination by a suitably licensed or certified examiner.... The order may be made only on motion for good cause shown and upon notice to the person to be examined and to all parties....

The determination of whether a mental examination should be ordered requires a fact intensive analysis. See Ziemann v. Burlington County Bridge Commission, 155 F.R.D. 497, 501 (D.N.J. 1994). Whether to order an examination is ultimately left to the sound discretion of the court. See Bowen ...

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