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The 4th DCA in GEICO v. Paton, 39 Fla. L. Weekly D132b (Fla. 4th DCA January 8, 2014), issued a per curiam opinion granting GEICO's petition for writ of certiorari on two trial court orders permitting discovery of GEICO's attorney's billing records. The records were sought by respondent, Kelly Paton, in her claim for attorney's fees but Ms. Patton failed to make the showing required to obtain her opponent's attorney fee records.

The 4th DCA relied upon its reasoning in Estilien v. Dyda, 93 So. 3d 1186 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012), that "the records of one's opponent are, at best, only marginally relevant to the general issue of determining an appropriate amount of attorney's fees to be awarded in a given case." Id. at 1188. Estilien held that billing records of opposing counsel sought for the purpose of supporting a claim for attorney's fees are only discoverable when: (1) the party seeking production establishes that the requested material is actually relevant to a disputed issue, (2) the records sought are needed to prepare for the attorney's fee hearing, and (3) substantially equivalent material cannot be obtained from another source. Id. at 1188-89.


 

 

This summary was prepared by Michael Woodard of our firm.


Michael Woodard

 

 


39 Fla. L. Weekly D72b

 

GEICO GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Petitioner, v. KELLY PATON, Respondent. 4th District. Case No. 4D13-2166. January 8, 2014. Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Michael L. Gates, Judge; L.T. Case No. 09-13697 CACE. Counsel: Rafael De La Grana and James K. Clark of Clark, Robb, Mason, Coulombe & Buschman, Miami, for petitioner. Bard D. Rockenbach of Burlington & Rockenbach, P.A., West Palm Beach and Richard M. Benrubi of Liggio & Benrubi, P.A., West Palm Beach, for respondent.

(Per Curiam.) Geico General Insurance Company petitions for a writ of certiorari from two trial court orders that permit discovery of its attorney's billing records. The records were sought by the respondent in support of her claim for attorney's fees in the litigation below. We grant the petition because the respondent failed to make the showing required to obtain her opponent's attorney's fee records.

This case is controlled by Estilien v. Dyda, 93 So. 3d 1186 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012). That case took the view that "the records of one's opponent are, at best, only marginally relevant to the general issue of determining an appropriate amount of attorney's fees to be awarded in a given case." Id. at 1188 (quoting HCA Health Srvcs. of Fla., Inc. v. Hillman, 870 So. 2d 104 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003)). Estilien held that:

[W]here the billing records of opposing counsel are sought solely for the purpose of supporting a claim for attorney's fees, '[t]he party seeking production must establish that the requested material is actually relevant to a disputed issue, that the records sought are needed to prepare for the attorney's fee hearing, and that substantially equivalent material cannot be obtained from another source.'

93 So. 3d at 1188-89 (quoting Hillman, 870 So. 2d at 107). Respondent requested the discovery, in part, to support the award of a "multiplier." She failed to make the showing required by Estilien.

Petition for writ of certiorari granted; orders under review quashed. (Damoorgian, C.J., Stevenson, and Gross, JJ., concur.)












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