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Florida Second DCA holds that discovery permitted under arbitration agreement need not mirror discovery permitted under Florida Rules of Civil Procedure

On February 15, 2017, in Angels Senior Living v. Gundry, No. 2D16-2080, the Second DCA reversed a trial court’s denial a defendant’s motion to compel arbitration. The trial court had denied the motion on the basis that a provision in the arbitration agreement limiting discovery violated public policy. The arbitration agreement’s discovery provisions allowed for document production and the deposition of experts, treating physicians and opposing parties. In addition, the defendant had stipulated to allow the depositions of its current employees. The Second DCA ruled that “even if the discovery clause did not provide the full panoply of discovery available under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.280(b), in light of the defendant’s stipulation to the employee depositions it could not be said that the plaintiff was being denied “meaningful discovery.” Moreover, the Court noted that the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) arbitration rules that were stipulated in the arbitration agreement allow an arbitrator to permit discovery “relevant to the claims and defense at issue.” The Second DCA concluded that the availability of added discovery through the AHLA Rules minimized the plaintiff’s discovery concerns.