A plaintiff in an auto negligence lawsuit can’t get the medical records of nonparty patients or the financial records of a defense expert, the Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled.
The panel vacated orders issued by St. Lucie Circuit Judge Dwight Geiger approving the subpoenas.
Originally, Adolfo Roura (the Plaintiff) tried to go around Florida laws restricting access to medical records of nonparties and financial records of expert witnesses to get subpoenas for more than 40 insurance companies that hired this defense expert, Dr. Jordan Grabel, to conduct compulsory medical examinations, or CMEs, in other cases at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach and other hospitals where the doctor performed surgeries. Roura wanted the insurance records to determine what Grabel earned from the CMEs, and he wanted the hospital records to determine what kind of surgeries Grabel performed that didn’t relate to Roura’s case.
Dr. Grabel and co-defendants Kristina M. Brana and Roscox Corp, a Port St. Lucie dental laboratory, objected to the subpoenas and consolidated their appeals to stop the trial court’s orders.
Considering the medical records of Grabel’s patients, the unsigned opinion of the Fourth District said Roura failed to show he complied with the notice provision of state law, “which requires notice to patients whose medical records are sought before issuance of a subpoena.” Grabel’s attorney said the issue had to do in part with Geiger’s practice of allowing subpoenas on the condition that the medical records be redacted.
The Fourth District cited in its opinion Coopersmith v. Perrine, a 2012 Fourth District case on the privacy of nonparties. That opinion cites the case of Graham v. Dacheikh from the Second District in 2008.
“Graham rejected redaction as a substitute for the statutory notice to the nonparty patients, noting that there was no argument made that notification would not be possible, and in fact compliance with other requests revealed that it was possible,” the Fourth District said in Coopersmith.
The issue of Grabel’s financial records was more clear cut. The Florida Rules of Civil Procedure explicitly bars the practice, the Fourth District stated. And case law states the only exception is for an unusual or compelling circumstance.”The trial court’s orders … do not state any basis for a finding of unusual or compelling circumstances in this case,” the court said. Furth District Judges Robert Gross, Burton Conner and Mark Klingensmith issued the unanimous opinion.
If you would like to read the entire opinion of the 4th DCA, click here: https://www.courtlistener.com/fladistctapp/eWm3/kristina-michelle-brana-roscox-corporation-and-jor/