MIAMI -- A three-judge panel in the Florida Third District Court of Appeal upheld on April 4 the trial court’s ruling that denied Amerisure Insurance Company’s motion to dismiss a suit brought by Lazaro Rodriquez.
The court’s ruling stated, “We dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction because Amerisure has failed to meet the threshold requirement of showing that the trial court’s order creates irreparable harm.” It was signed by Judge Edwin A. Scales, III, Judge Vance E. Salter and Judge Thomas Logue.
The original legal action was the result of an accident that caused personal injuries to Rodriquez while he was working for BV Oil, Inc. on the premises of Cosme Investments LLP. He filed a worker’s compensation claim, which is being paid by Amerisure, the worker’s comp carrier for BV Oil.
The original lawsuit filed by Rodriquez against Cosme Investments, accused the company of negligence and liability for his injuries as a business invitee on Cosme’s premises. Later, he added BV Oil and Amerisure to the suit, alleging these two companies had possessed and lost a video showing how the accident occurred, accusing them of spoliation of evidence. Rodriquez alleged the loss of this video weakened his claims against Cosme and BV Oil.
In response, Amerisure filed a motion to dismiss, arguing the spoliation claim could not be considered until Rodriquez had resolved his allegations against Cosme and BV Oil. The motion was denied by Judge Gisela Cardonne Ely of the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court. Amerisure then filed a request for writ of certiorari to the Third District Court of Appeal.
According to law.com, a writ of certiorari is a request for a higher court to review a decision of a lower court.
The three-judge appeals court based their denial on the following, as stated in the ruling. “Amerisure alleges that it will be irreparably harmed if it is forced to respond to discovery propounded by the plaintiff. Amerisure argues that discovery is premature and that ‘the information requested is irrelevant to the plaintiff’s complaint, or is otherwise protected by the attorney-client, work-product or other privileges.'”
In addition, the judges said “Amerisure has “objected to producing a corporate representative on the 17 substantive diverse topics set forth in plaintiff’s notice of deposition as the notice would potentially require the depositions of multiple representatives, and were objectionable on their face.”
The ruling also said that although discovery has been propounded, there was no order compelling Amerisure to respond to the discovery, nor was there any ruling on the objections to the discovery. “While it is true that an order erroneously compelling discovery of privileged information is reviewable by certiorari because an order requiring disclosure of privileged information may cause irreparable injury, no such order exists in this case,” according to appeal judges.
They said that Amerisure was only able to show a possibility that the trial court might enter such an order. The judges concurred, “This does not rise to the level of irreparable harm.”
Amerisure also argued that it is being forced to defend the spoliation allegation in the same trial where the plaintiff is prosecuting his negligence and liability claims against Cosme.
The judges said, “As with the discovery issue, there is no trial order yet in place. The possibility that litigation may result in a unitary trial which, in turn, may well constitute irreparable harm is insufficient to confer jurisdiction for certiorari review.”
The court’s final statement was “If a petitioner is unable to demonstrate irreparable harm, the court must dismiss the petition for lack of jurisdiction.”