Production of documents and things and entry upon land for inspection and other purposes; applicability to nonparties; confidentiality.
(a) Scope. Any party may serve on any other party a request:
(1) To produce and permit the party making the request, or someone acting on his behalf, to inspect and copy any designated documents (including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, phono-records, and other data compilations from which information can be obtained, translated, if necessary, by the respondent through detection devices into reasonably usable form), or to inspect and copy, test, or sample any tangible things which constitute or contain matters within the scope of subsection (b) of Code Section 9-11-26 and which are in the possession, custody, or control of the party upon whom the request is served; or
(2) To permit entry upon designated land or other property in the possession or control of the party upon whom the request is served for the purpose of inspection and measuring, surveying, photographing, testing, or sampling the property or any designated object or operation thereon, within the scope of subsection (b) of Code Section 9-11-26 .
(1) The request may, without leave of court, be served upon the plaintiff after commencement of the action and upon any other party with or after service of the summons and complaint upon that party. The request shall set forth the items to be inspected, either by individual item or by category, and describe each item and category with reasonable particularity. The request shall specify a reasonable time, place, and manner of making the inspection and performing the related acts.
(2) The party upon whom the request is served shall serve a written response within 30 days after the service of the request, except that a defendant may serve a response within 45 days after service of the summons and complaint upon that defendant. The court may allow a shorter or longer time. The response shall state, with respect to each item or category, that inspection and related activities will be permitted as requested, unless the request is objected to, in which event the reasons for objection shall be stated. If objection is made to part of an item or category, the part shall be specified. The party submitting the request may move for an order under subsection (a) of Code Section 9-11-37 with respect to any objection to or other failure to respond to the request or any part thereof, or any failure to permit inspection as requested.
(c) Applicability to nonparties.
(1) This Code section shall also be applicable with respect to discovery against persons, firms, or corporations who are not parties, in which event a copy of the request shall be served upon all parties of record; or, upon notice, the party desiring such discovery may proceed by taking the deposition of the person, firm, or corporation on oral examination or upon written questions under Code Section 9-11-30 or 9-11-31 . The nonparty or any party may file an objection as provided in subsection (b) of this Code section. If the party desiring such discovery moves for an order under subsection (a) of Code Section 9-11-37 to compel discovery, he or she shall make a showing of good cause to support his or her motion. The party making a request under this Code section shall, upon request from any other party to the action, make all reasonable efforts to cause all information produced in response to the nonparty request to be made available to all parties. A reasonable document copying charge may be required.
(2) This Code section shall also be applicable with respect to discovery against a nonparty who is a practitioner of the healing arts or a hospital or health care facility, including those operated by an agency or bureau of the state or other governmental unit. Where such a request is directed to such a nonparty, a copy of the request shall be served upon the person whose records are sought by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, or, if known, that person’s counsel, and upon all other parties of record in compliance with Code Section 9-11-5 ; where such a request to a nonparty seeks the records of a person who is not a party, a copy of the request shall be served upon the person whose records are sought by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, or, if known, that person’s counsel by certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, and upon all parties of record in compliance with Code Section 9-11-5 ; or, upon notice, the party desiring such discovery may proceed by taking the deposition of the person, firm, or corporation on oral examination or upon written questions under Code Section 9-11-30or 9-11-31 . The nonparty, any party, or the person whose records are sought may file an objection with the court in which the action is pending within 20 days of service of the request and shall serve a copy of such objection on the nonparty to whom the request is directed, who shall not furnish the requested materials until further order of the court, and on all other parties to the action. Upon the filing of such objection, the party desiring such discovery may move for an order under subsection (a) of Code Section 9-11-37 to compel discovery and, if he or she shall make a showing of good cause to support his or her motion, discovery shall be allowed. If no objection is filed within 20 days of service of the request, the nonparty to whom the request is directed shall promptly comply therewith.
(3) For any discovery requested from a nonparty pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection or a subpoena requesting records from a nonparty pursuant to Code Section 9-11-45 , when the nonparty to whom the discovery request is made is not served with an objection and the nonparty produces the requested records, the nonparty shall be immune from regulatory, civil, or criminal liability or damages notwithstanding that the produced documents contained confidential or privileged information.
(d) Confidentiality. The provisions of this Code section shall not be deemed to repeal the confidentiality provided by Code Sections 37-3-166 concerning mental illness treatment records, 37-4-125 concerning developmental disability treatment records, 37-7-166 concerning alcohol and drug treatment records, 24-12-20 concerning the confidential nature of AIDS information, and 24-12-21 concerning the disclosure of AIDS information; provided, however, that a person’s failure to object to the production of documents as set forth in paragraph (2) of subsection (c) of this Code section shall waive any right of recovery for damages as to the nonparty for disclosure of the requested documents.