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Florida Fourth DCA affirms trial court's dismissal of personal injury lawsuit for fraud upon the court in failing to disclose prior back and neck injuries

On May 17, 2017, in Bryant v. Mezo, No. 4D16-386, the Florida Fourth DCA affirmed a trial court’s dismissal of a personal injury lawsuit for fraud upon the court due to the plaintiff’s failure to disclose in her deposition that she had submitted two previous worker’s compensation claims in which she complained of cervical injuries. When confronted with the records at the evidentiary hearing on the motion to dismiss, the plaintiff had continued to deny every having any prior back or neck injuries or treatment. The trial court concluded that the alleged memory lapses were selective and intentional. The Fourth DCA observed that dismissal of a complaint for fraud upon the court requires clear and convincing evidence of a scheme to interfere with the court’s ability to impartially adjudicate by intentionally hampering the presentation of the opposing party’s defense, citing Herman v. Intracoastal Cardiology Ctr., 121 So. 3d 583, 588 (Fla. 4th DCA 2013). In support of its decision, the Fourth DCA focused on the plaintiff’s failure to acknowledge the prior injuries when confronted with the medical records and on the fact that the alleged memory lapse related to years of documented pain and corresponding treatment rather than a single isolated episode.