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Worley v. Cent. Fla. YMCA

Supreme Court of Florida

April 13, 2017, Decided

No. SC15-1086

Opinion

 [*20]  We have [**2]  for review the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men's Christian Ass'n, Inc., 163 So. 3d 1240 (Fla. 5th DCA 2015), in which the district court certified conflict with Burt v. Government Employees Ins. Co., 603 So. 2d 125 (Fla. 2d DCA 1992), regarding whether the attorney-client privilege protects a party from being required to disclose that his or her attorney referred the party to a physician for treatment. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(4), Fla. Const. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that the question implicates a confidential communication between the attorney and the client and is therefore protected. Accordingly, we quash the decision of the Fifth District and approve the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal.

FACTS

In its opinion granting certiorari review of the trial court's order on discovery, the Fifth District set forth the relevant facts:

After Worley fell in YMCA's parking lot, she twice went to the emergency room of Florida Hospital East, where she was eventually advised to see a specialist concerning pain in her right knee. However, according to Worley, she did not go to a specialist for a month or two after the accident because she did not have enough money or any health insurance. Instead, she "started seeking out representation." After Worley retained Morgan & Morgan, various doctors from [**3]  Sea Spine Orthopedic Institute, Underwood Surgery Center, and Sanctuary Surgical & Anesthesia treated Worley. Morgan & Morgan subsequently filed a negligence suit against YMCA on behalf of Worley, seeking to recover damages, including the costs of her treatment from those healthcare providers.

Worley, 163 So. 3d at 1242. During discovery of this "relatively routine trip-and-fall case," Central Florida Young Men's Christian Association, Inc. (YMCA), repeatedly attempted to discover the relationship between Worley's law firm, Morgan & Morgan, and her treating physicians. Id.

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228 So. 3d 18 *; 2017 Fla. LEXIS 812 **; 42 Fla. L. Weekly S 443; 2017 WL 1366126

HEATHER WORLEY, Petitioner, vs. CENTRAL FLORIDA YOUNG MEN'S CHRISTIAN ASS'N, INC., Respondent.

Subsequent History: Rehearing denied by Worley v. Cent. Fla. Young Men's Christian, 2017 Fla. LEXIS 2004 (Fla., Oct. 12, 2017)

Prior History:  [**1] Application for Review of the Decision of the District Court of Appeal - Certified Direct Conflict of Decisions. Fifth District - Case No. 5D14-3895. (Orange County).

Worley v. Cent. Fla. Young Men's Christian, 163 So. 3d 1240, 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 7282 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist., May 15, 2015)

CORE TERMS

discovery, treating physician, law firm, attorney-client, bias, financial relationship, referral, providers, costs, cases, burdensome, discover, medical provider, trial court, disclosure, privileged, disclose, treating, insurance company, district court, communications, discoverable, patients, instant case, supplemental, approve, reasons, confidential communication, trial court's order, legal services

Evidence, Credibility of Witnesses, Impeachment, Bias, Motive & Prejudice, Healthcare Law, Payment Systems, Privileges, Attorney-Client Privilege, Elements, Scope, Exceptions, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, State Court Review, Discovery & Disclosure, Discovery, Undue Burdens in Discovery