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Florida Third DCA rules that defendant was required to disclose information about financial relationships between defense experts and defense counsel

On September 11, 2019, in Angeles-Delgado v. Benitez, No. 3D19-1022, the Florida Third DCA denied the certiorari petition of the defendant in an motor vehicle negligence case who requested that the court quash a trial court order compelling discovery information about the financial and professional relationships between the defendant’s insurer, expert witnesses, and the law firm defending them. The plaintiff had sought the information under the authority of Allstate Insurance Company v. Boecher, 733 So. 2d 993 (Fla. 1999) (holding that a party may obtain discovery from an opposing party regarding the opposing party’s relationship with an expert). The defendant maintained that the trial court order was contrary to Worley v. Central Florida Young Men’s Christian Association, 228 So. 3d 18 (Fla. 2017) because it essentially was seeking information from non-parties. The Third DCA disagreed, noting that Worley holds only that the attorney-client privilege bars compelled disclosure of whether the plaintiff’s lawyer referred the plaintiff to a treating physician.

However, the Court noted that this issue is pending review by the Florida Supreme Court in Younkin v. Blackwelder, --- So. 3d ----, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D549, 2019 WL 847548 (Fla. 5th DCA Feb. 22, 2019) (noting the “seemingly disparate treatment in personal injury litigation between plaintiffs and defendants regarding disclosure of this type of relationship” and certifying whether Worley applies to preclude a defense law firm that is not a party from disclosing financial relationship with experts retained for purposes of litigation as a question of great public importance), rev. granted, Case No. SC19-385, 2019 WL 2180625 (Fla. May 21, 2019). Both the Third and Fourth DCAs have certified the same issue to the Florida Supreme Court. See Dodgen v. Grijalva, --- So. 3d ----, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D1617, 2019 WL 2608343 (Fla. 4th DCA June 26, 2019) (certifying whether Worley applies to preclude an insurance company that is not a party from disclosing financial relationship with experts as a question of great public importance); Rosenthal v. Badillo, No. 4D19-1854 (Fla. 4th DCA July 3, 2019) (same).