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Florida Court Discusses Disclosure of Trade Secrets in Auto Accident Cases

When a person who is hurt in a car accident decides to pursue damages from the party responsible for the collision, the injured party’s medical records are usually discoverable. Even if plaintiffs agree to release documents pertaining to their medical treatment, though, a defendant may face difficulties obtaining such records if the treatment provider objects to their disclosure. The right of a defendant in a car accident case to review records from a third-party provider was the topic of a recent Florida opinion, in a matter in which the court ultimately declined to order the production of the documents. If you were injured in a collision, it is in your best interest to meet with a capable Florida car accident attorney regarding your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Treating Records

Reportedly, the plaintiff and the defendant were involved in a collision that caused the plaintiff to suffer back and neck injuries. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendant, seeking damages under a theory of negligence. The defendant admitted he was liable for the accident but disputed the amount of damages the plaintiff was entitled to recover.

It is alleged that through the course of discovery, the defendant sought records from the numerous practitioners that treated the plaintiff, including one that specialized in treating spinal injuries (the provider). The provider objected to the request and filed a motion for a protective order, arguing the documents contained trade secrets and were protected from disclosure.

Protection of Trade Secrets Under Florida Law

When a Florida court is faced with the assertion that a discovery request seeks information that constitutes trade secrets, it must conduct a three-part analysis. First, the court must assess whether the information sought does, in fact, constitute a trade secret. While generally, this requires the court to review the documents, a review is not necessary if it is undisputed that the information sought is considered a trade secret.

If the request seeks trade secrets, the court must then evaluate whether the party seeking the information can prove a reasonable need for its disclosure. Typically, this means the court must evaluate whether the need for the production of the documents surpasses the interest in preventing them from being disclosed. Last, if the necessity of production is greater than the need to maintain the confidential nature of the documents, the court must then determine what measures should be implemented to protect the information.

In the subject case, the court found that the information sought by the defendant undoubtedly constituted trade secrets, but the defendant failed to establish the reasonable need for the disclosure of the information. Thus, the court granted the protective order.

Speak with a Trusted Florida Car Accident Attorney

Car accidents often cause painful and lasting injuries that require extensive treatment. If you were hurt in an auto accident, you may be able to recover compensation from the person responsible for your harm and you should speak to a lawyer. Attorney Ryan M. Cardoso has the skills and experience needed to help you pursue a just result, and if you hire him, he will work diligently on your behalf. You can reach Mr. Cardoso through the form online or at (850) 466-2073 to schedule a meeting.

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