Younkin v. Blackwelder, Opinion Filed Febr. 22, 2019 by Fifth District Court of Appeals of Florida

Fifth District Court of Appeal certifies question to Florida Supreme Court regarding disparate treatment of discoverability of financial relationship with experts.

The Fifth District Court of Appeal 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 it retains for purposes of litigation including those that perform compulsory medical examinations under Florida Rule Of Civil Procedure 1.360?

The petitioner appealed a discovery order entered by the trial court compelling defense counsel and defense counsel’s law firm to disclose the number of times it had retained its expert witness and how much they paid him over the past three years. The Fifth District denied certiorari review as it was not a departure from the essential requirements of law. In Vazquez v. Martinez, 175 So. 3d 372, 373-74 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015), this type of financial information is discoverable “to assist counsel in impeaching examining physicians and other experts by demonstrating that the expert has economic ties to the insurance company or defense law firm.” On the other hand, the Florida Supreme Court in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men’s Christian Ass’n, 228 So. 3d 18 (Fla. 2017) protected a plaintiff from disclosing whether an attorney referred him to a doctor for treatment or a law firm from producing documents related to a possible referral relationship between the law firm and the physician, arguing that it violated attorney-client privilege. Acknowledging that the current state of the law treats litigants unequally, this issue was certified to the Florida Supreme Court for their opinion.


Case Law Alerts, 2nd Quarter, April 2019

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