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Florida Fourth DCA that discovery protections afforded defense expert in negligence case extended to non-party corporate entity with which the expert was affiliated

On June 12, 2019, in Orthopedic Center of South Florida v. Sode, No. 4D18-3478, the Florida Fourth DCA quashed a trial court order compelling the production of documents by a non-party orthopedic center. The plaintiff in the underlying case, involving a bicycle accident, had  undergone a compulsory medical examination by a doctor employed by the orthopedic center.  When the plaintiff set the defense expert for deposition, he also served a proposed subpoena duces tecum on the orthopedic center seeking documents.  The plaintiff would not have been entitled to many of these documents if he had sought them directly from the doctor because they exceeded the scope of expert discovery permitted by Elkins v. Syken, 672 So. 2d 517 (Fla. 1996) and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.280(b)(5).  The Fourth DCA concluded that the protections afforded to an expert under rule 1.280(b)(5)(A)(iii) and Elkins should extend to the non-party corporate entity with which the expert is affiliated. “To hold otherwise would render Elkins and Rule 1.280 meaningless and create the same ‘chilling effect’ from which Elkins sought to protect experts.”