Wednesday, November 2, 2016

3d DCA Watch -- Florida Has No "Apex" Doctrine, Fancy Corporate Big Shots To Be Treated Like Other Regular Humans.


Don't get me started, this election is making me nervous.

But let's get right down to the law in its majesty:
Remington encourages this court to adopt and follow the Federal line of cases concerning discovery known as the “apex doctrine,” which shields upper level executives and corporate officers from depositions absent a showing that such executives and officers have special knowledge of the events in question and the information cannot be obtained through lesser intrusive means.  No Florida appellate decision has adopted the apex doctrine.  Racetrac Petroleum, Inc. v. Sewell, 150 So. 3d 1247, 1251 n.8 (Fla. 3d DCA 2014).  As such, we decline the invitation to apply that doctrine to the facts of this matter.  
Certainly there are lots of circumstances where idiot lawyers go after top muckety-mucks for no good reason, but traditional discretionary discovery tools should and do cover these situations.

But this general notion that because you're important you get de facto special discovery protections rubs my egalitarian tuches the wrong way:
Applicable rules and case law make clear that trial courts have broad discretion in overseeing discovery matters and in granting and denying motions for protective order. Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.280; Rojas v. Ryder Truck Rental, Inc., 625 So. 2d 106, 107 (Fla. 3d DCA 1993).  Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.280 allows a party to discover any matter that is not privileged and is relevant to the subject matter of the action or which appears reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence.  Where Remington’s officers admitted in their affidavits to meeting with Southernmost’s president and to discussing the management of the hotel with lower-level employees, we conclude that the depositions could be said to be reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. 
Surely this applies in a non-partisan manner.

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