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Florida Fifth DCA denies certiorari petition of personal injury defendant ordered to disclose amount paid by attorney’s law firm to case experts over the preceding three years

On November 6, 2020, in Routhier, et al. Barnes, et al., No. 5D20-1862, the Florida Fifth DCA denied the certiorari petition of the defendants in a medical negligence case who sought relief from a trial court order requiring them to disclose the amount of money paid by their legal counsel and his law firm to the retained trial experts over the last three years.  The Fifth DCA noted that it had denied a substantially similar request in Younkin v. Blackwelder, 44 Fla. L. Weekly D549 (Fla. 5th DCA Feb. 22, 2019), but additionally observed in that case that that law was not being evenly applied to plaintiffs and defendants because of the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Worley v. Cent. Fla. Young Men’s Christian Ass’n, 228 So. 3d 18, 23 (Fla. 2017) (holding that a law firm representing a plaintiff in personal injury litigation that refers its clients to a specific physician for treatment is not required to disclose the extent of its referral or financial relationship with the physician because “[f]irst, and most obviously, the law firm is not a party to the litigation”).  As in Younkin, the Fifth DCA certified the following question to the Florida Supreme Court as one of great public importance: “WHETHER THE ANALYSIS AND DECISION IN WORLEY SHOULD ALSO APPLY TO PRECLUDE A DEFENSE LAW FIRM THAT IS NOT A PARTY TO THE LITIGATION FROM HAVING TO DISCLOSE ITS FINANCIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH EXPERTS THAT IT RETAINS FOR PURPOSES OF LITIGATION INCLUDING THOSE THAT PERFORM COMPULSORY MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS UNDER FLORIDA RULE OF CIVIL PROCEDURE 1.360?  The Fifth DCA further noted that the Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction in Younkin, Younkin v. Blackwelder, Case No. SC19-385, 2019 WL 2180625 (Fla. May 21, 2019), and held oral argument in the case on September 10, 2020. To date, the Florida Supreme Court has not released its opinion.

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