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Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District
March 29, 2017, Decided
[*608] Conner, J.
Petitioners Jane Bistline, M.D. and Jane Bistline, M.D., P.A. seek certiorari review of the trial court's order granting Respondent Anthony Rogers's motion to amend his fourth amended complaint to assert claims for punitive damages. Having determined that we have jurisdiction, we grant relief because it appears from the order under review that the trial court applied the wrong legal standard.
Factual Background and Trial Court Proceedings
Respondent Rogers is a medical doctor with an ownership interest in a medical practice, Palm Beach Pain Management Clinic (PBPMC). In 2002, Rogers and Respondent Carroll jointly owned PBPMC. In 2003, Rogers and Carroll entered [**2] into an agreement for Rogers to buy out Carroll's interest in the practice; however, Carroll retained fifty percent of the voting rights and remained as the president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board until he was fully paid for his interest. PBPMC hired Bistline to work in the practice. Allegedly, in 2004, Carroll and Bistline decided to open a competing practice together.
As the plaintiff below, Rogers sued Petitioners and the other respondents, alleging Petitioners stole patients from PBPMC and improperly used and copied patient data and appointment schedules from a database owned by PBPMC. Eventually, Rogers sought leave to amend the complaint to add a claim for punitive damages against Petitioners as to separate counts for unfair competition, conversion, and tortious interference. Rogers submitted a proposed amended complaint and a written proffer of evidence in support of his motion to amend, which consisted largely of excerpts from transcripts of witness testimony in depositions and at various hearings.
[*609] Petitioners asserted various arguments and contentions for denying the motion, the primary contentions being that (1) Rogers's proffer of evidence was insufficient [**3] to support a punitive damages award because it failed to identify a single patient that had been improperly diverted from Rogers, and (2) because the trial court had previously stricken certain allegations of fraud in diverting the patients, there was no support for a punitive damages award under the three counts at issue.
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215 So. 3d 607 *; 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 4176 **; 42 Fla. L. Weekly D 706; 2017 WL 1174768
JANE BISTLINE M.D., and JANE E. BISTLINE, M.D., P.A., Petitioners, v. ANTHONY ROGERS, M.D. and PALM BEACH PAIN MANAGEMENT, INC., and GARY CARROLL, Respondents.
Prior History: [**1] Petition for writ of certiorari to the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County; Meenu T. Sasser, Judge; L.T. Case No. 50-2005-CA-003662-XXXX-MB.
trial court, punitive damages, claim for punitive damages, evidentiary, cause of action, allegations, award of punitive damages, tortious interference, motion to amend, misconduct, proffer
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, State Court Review, Torts, Damages, Types of Damages, Punitive Damages, Contracts, Intentional Interference, Remedies, Business Relationships, Punitive Damages, Availability, Intentional Torts, Conversion, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Procedural Matters, Discovery, Business Torts, Intentional Torts, Pleading & Practice, Pleadings, Amendment of Pleadings