The Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that the amounts of settlements made by doctor in other cases are not discoverable in another medical malpractice action against him.
The case is Miller v. Kelly; it is reported at 130 P.3d 982 (Ariz. App. 2006).
The Court held that “the amount paid in settlement of a claim establishes neither negligence nor gross negligence” and that the information is neither relevant nor reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. The Court noted that “[p]ermitting disclosure of amounts paid in settlement of a lawsuit contrary to an express provision ensuring the confidentiality of that information likely would discourage parties from settling. And disclosure of that information poses the risk that conclusions will be drawn about the paying party’s culpability and the degree of culpability based on the fact that payment was made and the amount.”
The Court mentioned that the trial judge has not “precluded [plaintiffs] from impeaching [the defendant] with evidence about the circumstances that gave rise to the other lawsuits. Nor would [plaintiffs] be precluded from using the prior incidents affirmatively to support her claim for punitive damages.”