Articles Posted in Florida

Two units of Johnson & Johnson were ordered to pay $16.6 million to the family of a Chicago-area woman who died after using a Duragesic pain-patch. This is the 4th consecutive pain pump verdict against Johnson & Johnson in the pain pump litigation. Last month, a Florida jury awarded $13 million to the family of a woman who died after using a similar patch.

If you have a Duragesic pain patch case, call our attorneys at 800-553-8082.

In the middle of all the recap of Sunday’s action in the NFL, ESPN had a sad story that I do not remember hearing about. A University of Central Florida football player who collapsed died in March during workouts in March. A former player was interviewed who suggested that the coaches were not paying attention to the stress the player was under and that the significantly understated the intensity of the workout. The family of the player intends to file wrongful death lawsuit in Florida against the school.

I can’t judge the merits of the case. But it is just awful to think that this death could have been averted but for some old school “there is nothing wrong with you, just suck it up” garbage from coaches.

United Automobile Insurance lawyer Charles Grimsley has agreed to a public reprimand for saying Miami-Dade judges “are being paid off” by plaintiffs’ car accident lawyers.

Grimsley was clearly agitated by the success of plaintiffs’ accident lawyers in small claims personal injury protection cases in Florida. In frustration, he said, “I think the judges are being paid off, but I can’t prove that.”

I think but I cannot prove. I think United Automobile Insurance is on the wrong side of justice in Florida because they are essentially taking premiums but fighting payout of too many valid claims under a scorched earth policy with its own insured. But I can’t see anything wrong with “I think but I cannot prove.” If we can only talk about what we can prove as opposed to what we suspect, the First Amendment is worth nothing. And lawyers are entitled to their First Amendment rights just like anyone else.

One dilemma we often face is dealing with a client in car accident cases is that they would like us to refer them to a health care provider. The best path is always to have client direct their own medical care. But in the real world, you cannot always do this. If you do refer a client to a doctor, here are few ideas to limit the damage of the classic cross-examination question: “You lawyer referred you to this doctor, didn’t he?”

First, file a motion in limine requesting that evidence of the attorney’s recommendation be excluded as protected by the attorney-client privilege. In a Florida personal injury car accident case, Burt v. Government Employees Insurance Co., 603 So.2d 125 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1992), a Florida Court of Appeal was asked to decide if the following questions were permissible from the defendant’s accident lawyer: (1) when did they obtain an accident lawyer, and (2) did their lawyer refer them to a particular doctor? The Florida court ruled that the former question did not violate the attorney-client privilege but the second question, which sought to uncover confidential conversations between the accident lawyer and the client, was a violation of the lawyer-client privilege. Cite this case, argue that a rule requiring disclosure of such information is a significant incursion into the province of the attorney-client privilege, and take your best shot.

If your motion is denied, get it out up front in the opening the reasons why the client took a lawyer referral. What “excuse” do you give? Ask the client. Generally speaking, injured clients have a good reason why they wanted to defer to their counsel.  They may not like or even have a primary care doctor, the client’s doctor’s office may be far away, or they may struggle to get an immediate appointment. In closing argument, tell them that the defense lawyer is trying to distract you from the real issues: the doctor is qualified to treat the patient and the patient is injured.

florida judge resignationBroward County, Florida Judge Jay Spechler abruptly resigned Monday after the chief judge barred him from the courthouse. Chief Judge Victor Tobin had reassigned Judge Spechler last week to traffic and parking matters at satellite courthouses until his resignation Monday.

The Orlando Sentinel has an editorial today decrying frivolous lawsuits in Florida. The editorial provides a class example of frivolous lawsuits filed by Florida personal injury lawyers that are destroying Florida:

“For example, last year a law enforcement officer in Central Florida was among those who responded to a 911 call when a 1-year-old fell into a swimming pool. The officer injured her knee when she slipped on a puddle of water left when the child was removed from the pool. The child survived but was brain-damaged. The officer, however, sued the child’s family, even though all her bills were covered by the city. Thankfully, the officer’s frivolous slip-and-fall lawsuit received so much negative attention that she withdrew it.”

Does this example support even more tort reform in Florida? Of course, people will bring frivolous complaints under any system. If the goal is zero tolerance for complaints that turn out to have little merit in our legal system, we will have to make a lot of changes. The reality is the police will bring charges against people that are later shown to be innocent, the government will go after pharmaceutical companies and later find they committed no violations, and you will accuse your spouse/friend/child of a “crime” they did not commit. Hopefully, these errors/mistakes/misunderstandings are caught before too much harm is done.

obtaining medical recordsThe Orlando Sentinel reports that Florida Medical Association is asking the Florida legislature to change the law to increase what doctors may charge to get copies of medical records. Currently, Florida doctors can charge $1 per page for the first 25 pages and 25 after that.

Believe me, I realize the retrieval costs are such that doctors are not making money producing medical records at this price. But should they be? Patients are entitled to their medical records. You need medical records for a lawsuit. Personal injury lawyers in Florida have characterized the Florida doctors’ request as a backdoor strategy to avoid medical malpractice claims. I’m not sure that an increase in the cost of medical records will do that. But I also don’t see why the current prices don’t adequately give reimburse doctors for their costs of producing medical records.

  • This is an older post, obviously. But this is the 2022 Florida statute on the cost of collecting medical records.  The key language: “The exclusive charge for copies of patient records may include sales tax and actual postage, and, except for nonpaper records that are subject to a charge not to exceed $2, may not exceed $1 per page. A fee of up to $1 may be charged for each year of records requested…However, a patient whose records are copied or searched for the purpose of continuing to receive medical care is not required to pay a charge for copying or for the search. “
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