Justices Set Arguments In Medical Malpractice Dispute

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Tallahassee (CBSMiami/NSF) – The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments in early December in a constitutional challenge to a 2013 medical malpractice dispute.

Justices issued an order Tuesday scheduling arguments about part of the law aimed at allowing what are known as “ex parte communications” in malpractice lawsuits.

The law was passed after a lobbying battle that pitted groups such as doctors and plaintiffs’ attorneys.

In ex parte communications, for example, defense attorneys representing doctors accused of malpractice could get personal health information about the patients involved in the cases. That information could come from other doctors who treated the patients, and disclosure could occur without the patients’ attorneys being present.

Critics of the law, such as plaintiffs’ attorneys, argue the law violates patients’ privacy rights. But supporters of the law contended during the 2013 debate that its passage was a fairness issue because ex parte communications would give defense attorneys access to information that plaintiffs’ attorneys already can review.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in an Escambia County case filed by Emma Gayle Weaver, who was the representative of the estate of Thomas E. Weaver, whose care was at issue in malpractice allegations.

The arguments are scheduled to be heard on Dec. 8.

The 1st District Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of the law, prompting Weaver’s attorneys to take the case to the Supreme Court.

(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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