Often times, a Florida personal injury case turns on evidence that is obtained through the discovery process. Having full and truthful disclosure has a significant impact on the legal process and can be the difference in the case either reaching a settlement or ultimately being brought before a jury.
The Second District Court of Appeals of Florida recently rendered an opinion on the need for truthful discovery and the consequences of not acting in good faith. In the case Garvin v. Tidwell, So.3d, 37 FLW D2506 (Fla. DCA 10-24-2012), the appellate court set aside a mediated settlement agreement where the defendant had failed to disclose material information potentially adverse to the defense during discovery.
The Plaintiff in this case had been injured when she was thrown by a horse owned by the defendant. Before the Plaintiff’s accident she was assured that the horse had never exhibited any dangerous behavior. Throughout the case, the defendant never produced any discovery to the alternative. However, a magazine article was found that in fact established the horse in question was taking dietary supplements as a result of its difficult nature.
The appellate court found that the defendant had violated her discovery obligations by failing to disclose the information known to her about the horse’s behavior. The court noted that said discovery was relevant and was likely to be an important exhibit at trial. The appellate court stated “since our system of justice depends on truthful discovery, misconduct in discovery must be discouraged by disallowing the settlement which is the fruit of such misconduct.”
Fla. Rule of Civ. P. 1.730(c) provides the trial court with broad powers including the power to rescind a settlement agreement reached at mediation where there has been a failure to disclose material information. This rule of civil procedure and the appellate court’s ruling illustrates the importance of truthful and complete discovery production.
In the event you have a question regarding a personal injury matter we welcome you to call Givens Givens Sparks for a free case evaluation. Our firm has a division dedicated to representing those who have been injured by the negligence of others.