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Florida Second DCA rules that trial court’s discovery order requiring defendant in motor vehicle negligence case to turn over ten years of medical records was overbroad

On January 8, 2021, in Tanner, et al. v. Hart, No. 2D20-1470, the Florida Second DCA granted the certiorari petition of a defendant in a motor vehicle negligence case who had been ordered by the trial court to comply with the plaintiff’s discovery request for the defendant’s medical records for the preceding ten years. The accident occurred in 2014 when the defendant was 79 years old.  In 2019, the plaintiff attempted to depose the defendant, but was informed that the defendant was in hospice care and suffering memory loss associated with dementia.  The plaintiff then sought the medical records at issue.  The trial court ordered the production of records for the period from December 2011 through April 2020 notwithstanding the objection of defense counsel that the request was overbroad and sought some information that was irrelevant to the issue, i.e., whether the defendant was negligent in 2014.  The Second DCA opined that some subset of the records may be relevant but requiring disclosure of all records from 2011 through the present “casts too wide a net.”  The Second DCA concluded that the trial court departed from the essential requirements of law by compelling disclosure of nearly ten years' worth of categorically inclusive medical information without first determining its relevance and balancing the need for such information against the defendant’s constitutionally protected privacy interests.