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Florida Supreme Court holds that attorney-client privilege protects a party from being required to disclose that his or her attorney referred the party to a physician for treatment.

On April 13, 2017, in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men’s Christian Ass’n, No. SC15-1086, the Florida Supreme Court resolved a certified conflict between the Fifth and Second DCAs regarding whether the attorney-client privilege protects a party from being required to disclose that his or her attorney referred the party to a physician for treatment. The Court concluded that the question implicates a confidential communication and is therefore protected from discovery. The defendant had sought the information due to suspicions of a “cozy relationship” between the injured plaintiff’s attorneys and her physicians due to the amount of the medical bills. After the trial court ruled in favor of the defense’s discovery demand, the plaintiff ought certiorari review by the Fifth DCA, which denied the plaintiff’s petition and certified a conflict with the Second DCA’s decision in Burt v. Government Employee Ins. Co., 603 So. 2d 125 (Fla. 2d DCA 1992). The Florida Supreme Court ruled that previous decisions in the Fourth DCA holding that the financial relationship between a plaintiff’s law firm and a treating doctor is discoverable to show bias were wrongly decided because such a relationship is not analogous to the financial relationship between a plaintiff’s law firm and a retained expert, which is discoverable to the extent set forth in Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.280(b)(5)(A).

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