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Florida Fifth DCA quashes trial court denying personal injury defendant discovery of discounts agreed upon when the plaintiff’s medical provider sold the plaintiff’s unpaid accounts to a factoring company

On May 21, 2021, in Osceola County Board of County Commissioners v. Sand Lake Surgery Center, et al., No. 5D2-1267, the Florida Fifth DCA quashed a trial court order in a personal injury case which had denied the defendant discovery from the plaintiff’s health care provider of the amount of the original medical bills and any discounts agreed upon when the health care facility sold the plaintiff’s unpaid accounts to a factoring company. The plaintiff’s unpaid bills were for services rendered under a Letter of Protection. Rather than wait for the outcome of the plaintiffs’ cases, the medical provider sold the plaintiffs’ accounts receivables to American Medical Funding (“AMF”), a factoring company. When the defendant sought the information in discovery, the medical provider argued that its contract with AMF prevented it from voluntarily disclosing the information or documents because of an undisclosed financial penalty attached to a breach of the nondisclosure provisions of its agreement with AMF. The Fifth DCA ruled that the trial court erred by permitting the medical provider to withhold the information, noting that neither AMF nor the medical provider offered any proof that the information sought by the defendant was in fact a trade secret, citing Atchiler v. State, 442 So. 2d 349, 350 (Fla. 1st DCA 1983). The Fifth DA additionally noted that the documents sought by the defendant were clearly relevant because several factors are relevant to the analysis of whether a medical provider’s charges are reasonable, including explanations for pricing differentials such as “discounts associated with factoring of accounts receivable,” quoting from Lawton-Davis v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 6:14-cv1157-Orl-37DAB, 2016 WL 1383015 at *2 (M.D. Fla. Apr. 7, 2016).