Brannock Humphries & Berman Secures Writ of Certiorari to Prevent Disclosure of Medical Records
Agreeing with the arguments set forth by Brannock Humphries & Berman in a petition for writ of certiorari filed on behalf of its family-law client, the Second District Court of Appeal overturned a Polk County trial court’s order requiring the production of medical and mental health records in an ongoing dissolution of marriage proceeding.
Shortly after the Wife filed for divorce, the Husband served discovery requests seeking to obtain all of the Wife’s medical and psychological records, including doctor’s notes, prescriptions, and treatment reports. Without any supporting evidence, or any evidence that the Wife even had relevant psychological records, the Husband alleged that this information was necessary to determine whether the Wife was fit to parent the parties’ teenage kids. The trial court limited the production somewhat, to the twelve months preceding the divorce, and stated that the judge would first review any privileged records in camera. But the court required the records to be turned over nonetheless.
At that point, Brannock Humphries & Berman came on board to assist the Wife’s trial attorney, Sarah Kay, in halting the discovery. On the Wife’s behalf, the firm sought certiorari relief from the Second District, arguing that the records were absolutely privileged and that the trial court should not have ordered her to turn them over—in camera or otherwise. The appellate court agreed. The court noted that the Husband’s allegations were legally insufficient to place the Wife’s mental health at issue. Because medical records are privileged, the appellate court said, a trial court cannot require those records to be produced, even in camera, without finding that the privilege has been waived. The appellate court therefore determined that the trial court had departed from the essential requirements of the law in ordering the production and quashed the lower court’s ruling.
This is an important decision reaffirming the confidential nature of medical records, even in family-law cases, and will now allow the Wife to move forward with her divorce free of the threat that her Husband could review her medical history and try to use it against her.