An appellate court in Florida granted certiorari and quashed a lower court’s order requiring the Plaintiff to submit to a compulsory medical examination in the presence of a videographer hired by the Defendant.

In Prince v. Mallari (.pdf), Defendant served a notice of compulsory medical examination to be performed by a defense-retained physician.  The notice stated in bold type: “If the plaintiff videotapes the examination, Defendant will also videotape the examination, at its expense.”  Over Plaintiff’s objection, the trial court ordered that if Plaintiff was going to videotape the examination, then the defense should also be allowed to have a videographer present.

Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeal quashed the order, and in so doing reaffirmed Florida case law that although the defense can require a plaintiff to submit to a compulsory medical examination pursuant to Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.360, defense counsel does not have the right to be present at the examination.  The court reasoned that because a compulsory medical examination is an “adversarial” proceeding, a plaintiff must be afforded certain protections such as the right to privacy, the right to have counsel present, and the right to have the examination videotaped.  A plaintiff’s videotape of a compulsory medical examination would typically be protected from production under the work product doctrine unless the videotape was to be introduced as evidence at trial.

Defendant argued that because he could not obtain Plaintiff’s videotape of the examination through discovery due to the work product privilege, the only way to be on equal footing at the examination and to insure the accuracy of the videotape was to have his own videographer present.  The Fifth DCA, however, disagreed and held that just because a plaintiff has an examination videotaped, that does not permit defense counsel to simultaneously videotape the examination. Otherwise, defense counsel could do by proxy what they are not permitted to do in person.