Rule 4003.4. Scope of Discovery. Trial Preparation Material. Statements.
Upon written request, a party is entitled to immediate receipt of a photostatic copy or like reproduction of a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that party, any other party or a witness. Upon written request, a person not a party is entitled to immediate receipt of a photostatic copy or like reproduction of a statement concerning the action or its subject matter previously made by that person. If the statement is not so provided, the party or person may move for a court order. For purposes of this rule, a statement previously made is
(1) a written statement signed or otherwise adopted or approved by the person making it, or
(2) a stenographic, mechanical, electrical or other recording, or a transcription thereof, which is a substantially verbatim recital of an oral statement by the person making it and contemporaneously recorded.
Rule 4003.4 resolves a problem not covered in the prior practice, and which has troubled the courts. It provides that any party may, upon request, obtain from his opponent a copy of the partys own statement or the statement of any witness in the possession of the opponent. Further, any witness may obtain a copy of his own statement upon request. If refused, the party or witness may move for a court order for compliance.
The Rule differs markedly in scope from Fed. R.Civ.P. 26(b)(3). The Federal Rule permits a party to obtain only his own statement; the production of statements of witnesses obtained by an adverse party in anticipation of litigation or preparation for trial requires a showing of substantial need in the preparation of the inquiring partys case and that he is unable without undue hardship to obtain a substantial equivalent of the materials by other means.
There are no restrictions on the timing of the request. Under prior practice, some lower courts ruled that the statement of a party given to his opponent could be withheld until after the party had testified. Others held that the party could demand a copy of his statement before he testified. Some held that no witness could have a copy of his own statement because this would prevent a test of his veracity.
The amended Rule does not deal with the substantive problem of admissibility in evidence or use of the statements. Their admissibility is governed by the rules of evidence.
Two statutes are relevant. Section 7101 of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa.C.S. § 7101, prohibits the use of statements obtained from an injured person within fifteen days of admission to a hospital or sanitarium, unless he acknowledges before an independent notary public his willingness to give the statement.
Likewise, the Peer Review Protection Act of 1974, 63 P. S. § 425.1 et seq., imposes restrictions on discovery and use of the proceedings and records of health care peer review organizations for the purpose of evaluating the quality of health care.
The Rule covers all forms of statements, including signed statements, recordings and transcriptions.
The provisions of this Rule 4003.4 adopted November 20, 1978, effective April 16, 1979, 8 Pa.B. 3551, amended December 14, 1979, effective January 5, 1980, 10 Pa.B. 34; amended December 27, 1995, effective January 1, 1996, 26 Pa.B. 227. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (134399) to (134400).
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