Thursday, October 14, 2021

Plaintiff May Discover Relationship Between Defense Firm And Medical Expert

The Florida Supreme Court declined to prevent discovery into the financial arrangement between a defense law firm and its medical expert in a personal injury case

After the plaintiff requested certain information regarding the financial relationship between the defendant’s law firm and the defense’s medical expert, the defendant moved for a protective order, but the trial court denied the motion. Younkin, 44 Fla. L. Weekly at D549. The defendant then filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the Fifth District. The district court denied the petition, concluding that the trial court’s order was consistent with the Fifth District’s earlier decision in Vazquez v. Martinez, 175 So. 3d 372 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015). Younkin, 44 Fla. L. Weekly at D549- D550.

The court

We thus reframe the certified question as follows:

Whether it is a departure from the essential requirements of law to permit discovery regarding the financial relationship between a defendant’s nonparty law firm and an expert witness retained by the defense?

And we answer in the negative. Because Worley is distinguishable, and because the trial court’s discovery order was consistent with binding district court precedent, see Vazquez, 175 So. 3d at 374, the discovery order did not depart from the essential requirements of the law.

Justice Poulson dissented and decried unequal discovery requirements for plaintiffs and defendants

Because I would recede from Worley and require disclosures equally from plaintiffs and defendants, I respectfully dissent.

The court issued this opinion reaching the same conclusion in an unrelated case

Because the trial court’s order permitting discovery related to the financial relationship between Dodgen’s insurer and defense experts was consistent with established law, we agree with the Fourth District that the trial court did not depart from the essential requirements of the law in denying Dodgen’s motion for protective order.

(Mike Frisch)

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