New Discovery Ruling Encourages the use of the Discovery Process as a “Fishing Expedition" Against Product Manufacturers.
09.09.11 | Permalink
Posted by: Brian J. Baggot
Alvarez v. Cooper Tire is a relatively new opinion out of the Florida 4th DCA (Palm Beach and Broward counties, predominantly). In essence, the case abrogates the "substantial similarity doctrine" as the check against plaintiffs making overbroad discovery demands to product manufacturers for other incident / accident and other makes & models information. The judge who authored the opinion actually encourages "fishing expeditions" as a tool to be used by plaintiffs against defendants in such efforts.
The defendant in the case, Cooper Tire, has filed a Motion for Rehearing and a Motion for Suggestion of Cert. to the Florida Supreme Court. Those efforts have sat silently with the 4th DCA for 8 months. Although impossible to tell, we do not think the delay can be read as a "positive" considering the claimant-friendly disposition of the Florida 4th DCA.
For now, this is a non-final opinion. Clearly though, it tells us a lot about defending products liability cases in Broward / Palm Beach counties. Most importantly, the standard operating procedure should be to avoid - if possible - litigating discovery disputes in that jurisdiction on a “lack of substantial similarity” objection. Please contact an RKC product liability attorney if you have any questions about this new opinion or would like to further discuss its implications.
For a more detailed summary about this opinion click here.