November 19, 2007
Another Summary Judgment Reversed In Part
A lawyer represented a client in a workers' compensation claim and won reimbusement for family and non-family home care. The defense lawyer and insurer hid behind "a wall of willful ignorance" in refusing to pay the ordered benefits. The defense lawyer "made a decision to have [the insurer] issue a check to [a non-family member] for non-family attendant care benefits in an attempt to entrap the [client] and/or [counsel] because he believed they were guilty of committing insurance fraud." He then met with the care giver, and told her she would not be prosecuted if she signed the check when she met with plaintiff's counsel. The care giver taped the meeting with plaintiff's counsel. The defense lawyer brought the tape to a prosecutor, who charged the client with insurance fraud. The client was acquitted on all counts.
Plaintiffs' counsel then sued defense counsel, the insurer and the care giver. The trial court granted summary judgment, which was reversed in part by the Florida Fifth District Court of Appeal. Summary judgment was not proper on "the issue whether [defense counsel] improperly disclosed or used the contents of...illegally obtained tapes." Further, there are questions of fact as to defense counsel's authority regarding the investigation that preclude summary judgment for the insurer. (Mike Frisch)
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