The Supreme Court of Florida just released an historic decision regarding the privilege of confidential communication within the
You might not realize it, but the Supreme Court in Florida just made a ground-breaking decision upholding your rights in a personal injury situation. Any time important legal news is made in Florida, Metts Legal has pledged to bring you the story “hot off the press.”
If you are involved in a personal injury case, the decision reached last week could greatly affect the outcome of your case if you go to trial.
For this reason, whenever an important story breaks, we will pause the current theme or topic on our blog. Thus, we pause our topics on car accidents to bring you the basics of this Supreme Court Case. This decision was decided at the end of last week.
The Supreme Court of Florida: Embracing Your Right to Confidential Communication in the Client/Attorney Relationship!
The case involved, in last week’s decision, began when a woman fell in a YMCA parking lot. The defense attorneys wanted to force the woman to disclose whether or not her lawyers referred her to her medical providers.
The murky part of the case, the muddy issue that made it a close decision was partially caused by situation that, with nothing but heresay evidence, the YMCA lawyers were attempting to prove a “cozy” relationship between the plaintiff’s lawyers and the physicians who cared for her. They wanted her to disclose whether her lawyer had referred her to specific doctors. Her lawyer objected, citing the privilege the of lawyer-client relationship.
- On the one hand, it would seem that any conversation between the client and her lawyer would be protected.
- On the other hand, everyone knows that the medical bills and fees are critical evidence in any settlement case.
Supreme Court Considers “Gray Area Concerns”
1. In these “gray areas” between one hand and the other, above, were ugly implications that an unsavory, profit-making relationship
existed between the doctors who treated the accident victim, and the lawyers who represented her.
2. Likewise, the YMCA accused the medical providers of allegedly inflating and repeating charges on the bills.
3. And, meanwhile, what if, in their conversation, the lawyer had only been thinking about his client’s medical needs and not about her legal ones? Was that still to be considered a privileged conversation?
4. Meanwhile, fees for legal experts to further evaluate the medical bills would have amounted to 150,000.00 to 200,000.00.
This would be an excruciating hardship on the accident victim.
You can read the details of the case at the official website of the Florida Supreme Court.
At that online resource, you can see how the precision and power of the law, based on logic and previous judgements, triumphs.
After the briefs and the arguments, and with a 4-3 vote, the Supreme Court of Florida mandated that “such a disclosure would violate attorney-client privilege.”
Supreme Court : The Facts of the Matter
If we look at this issue, step by step, as did the justices, the case showed:
1. The plaintiff went to a particular doctor.
2. The plaintiff received a referral to see that doctor.
3. However, the delicate wall of client privilege was breached when the YMCA lawyers sought to know, directly from her testimony, if her lawyer asked her to see that specific doctor, and had referred her to him.
Keep in mind that ultimately the court ruled that this request from the YMCA defense lawyers, required the plaintiff to reveal a certain “part of a communication that was held between the plaintiff and attorney.”
Key To The Case: Client-Attorney Confidentiality
Protection of client-attorney communication has long been an iron-clad point of law. And it held true in this instance.
The justices reported, “We resist any attempts to separate the contents of communications to distinguish ‘facts’ from privileged information.”
They added, “To hold otherwise would severely undermine the purpose of the privilege, which is to encourage the free flow of information between attorneys and their clients.”