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Goicochea v. Lopez, Case No. 3D14-873 (3rd DCA)

In Goicochea, the Third DCA granted a writ of certiorari and quashed a trial court’s non-final order limiting the co-defendants in the case to a single compulsory medical examination. The plaintiff sued several defendants for injuries she sustained during three separate and unrelated automobile accidents. The plaintiff alleged that her injuries from the three accidents were indivisible and superimposed upon one another, and that the plaintiff was unable to apportion her damages between them. One defendant requested a compulsory medical exam by an orthopedic doctor, while certain other defendants requested a compulsory medical exam by a different orthopedic doctor. The trial court ruled that the defendants were collectively entitled to one compulsory medical exam per medical specialty. The trial court relied upon Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. v. Cox, 974 So. 2d 462 (Fla. 3d DCA 2008), which provides that when “a defendant requests a subsequent IME, the defendant should make a stronger showing of necessity before the request is authorized.”

The Third DCA found the trial court’s reliance on Cox was misplaced. In Cox, the same defendant sought to subject the plaintiff to a second compulsory exam. The Third DCA quoted Cox: “In a negligence action where a plaintiff asserts that he or she has sustained mental or physical injuries, the defendant’s good cause for conducting the initial IME is normally shown without any further inquiry. However, when a defendant requests a subsequent IME, the defendant should make a stronger showing of necessity before that request is authorized.” However, unlike in Cox, the Goicochea case involves separate co-defendants who, based upon the allegations in the complaint, are adverse to one another. The Third DCA further noted that the plaintiff had pitted the co-defendants against one another. Therefore, through separate compulsory medical exams, each co-defendant attempted to establish that the plaintiff’s injuries were not the result of their specific negligence. Because the co-defendants were “adverse to each other, the trial court departed from the essential requirements of law by limiting all defendants to a single shared ‘IME per specialty,'” thereby failing to afford each co-defendant the benefits of rule 1.360.

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