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Florida Supreme Court Strikes Down Burdensome Defendant-Friendly Discovery Rule in Recent Medical Malpractice Case

Earlier this month, the Florida Supreme Court issued a written opinion in a case that will likely have great implications across the State. The case involved allegations of Florida medical malpractice brought by the wife of a man who died while in the defendant doctor’s care. The issue involved a discovery rule that allowed for a defendant doctor to compel the plaintiff to release the names of previous health care providers and allowed for the defendant to arrange meetings with the providers without the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney present.

Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff had the ability to assert her husband’s right to privacy to challenge the discovery rules and that the rules were unconstitutional because they burdened the plaintiff’s right to access the court system.

The Discovery Rules

The discovery rules at issue allowed for informal discovery, whereby the defendant could request certain information from the plaintiff. Among the information that could be requested by the defendant were the names of all previous medical care providers. A 2013 amendment to the rules also allowed for the defendant to arrange ex parte meetings with the medical care providers. The plaintiff challenged the aspect of the rules that allowed for ex parte meetings.

The Facts of the Case

As noted above, the plaintiff was the surviving wife of a man who died while in the care of the defendant doctor. In anticipation of the defendant seeking to arrange meetings with her husband’s former medical care providers, the plaintiff asked the court to find that the discovery rules allowing for this type of meeting were unconstitutional.

The defendant’s first argument was that the plaintiff could not assert her husband’s right to privacy because that right was extinguished when he died. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, finding that a surviving family member can assert a loved one’s right to privacy, at least in this context.

Next, the court considered whether the discovery rules were a violation of the plaintiff’s husband’s right to privacy. In a lengthy opinion, the court concluded that they were. The court noted that the rules were overly broad in that they allowed access to medical records and health care providers who had nothing to do with the case against the defendant. As a result, the court struck down the 2013 amendments to the discovery rules and prevented the defendant from being able to meet with the plaintiff’s husband’s former medical care providers.

Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured after what you believe may have been an act of Florida medical malpractice, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The dedicated South Florida personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Cecere Santana have extensive experience assisting victims of medical malpractice prepare and litigate their claims. The laws governing medical malpractice claims in Florida have recently undergone significant changes, and recent court decisions may make it easier for plaintiffs to prove their cases against negligent medical providers. To learn more, call 800-753-5529 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Car Accident Plaintiff’s Non-Compliance with Contractual Term Not a Basis for Dismissal Due to Defendant’s Failure to Object, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published October 25, 2017.

Is the Jury’s Verdict Final in a Florida Personal Injury Case?, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 4, 2017.

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