The seeds of success – or failure – in your Florida commercial litigation action are often sown long before either side calls a single witness or makes a single argument or statement at trial. Getting the evidence you need to obtain a favorable judgment often relies on doing the right discovery during the pre-trial process. That means not only identifying what you need, but also knowing how to go about getting it and the defeating of the other side’s arguments that you’re not entitled to that information. This requires an in-depth knowledge of your case, the law and the rules of procedure. To make sure you have that on your side, you need an experienced South Florida commercial litigation attorney.
A recent case from the Tampa Bay area is a good example of these processes in action. The underlying lawsuit revolved around data that was generated by a footwear sanitation device. A Largo-based doctor approached the St. Petersburg-based entity that collected the data about purchasing the rights to it. The sides signed a letter of intent and proceeded. Three years later, the relationship broke down and litigation ensued.
The doctor, at one point during the pre-trial discovery process, sought to take 18 new depositions and to complete three additional ones that had been continued. The doctor’s side stated that the numerous depositions were needed to establish essential elements of the case, including that an enforceable agreement had been established between the sides. They also argued that they needed the depositions to secure evidence about what the parties’ course of dealings was.
Depositions must be ‘reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence’
While Florida’s discovery rules generally allow parties wide latitude in the pre-trial discovery they perform, you cannot do certain types of discovery. If your proposed discovery would impose an unreasonable burden on the other side, then it isn’t allowed. If the discovery you seek is not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence, then it also isn’t allowed. Outside those two situations, most discovery is allowable.
Obviously, if a deponent has no knowledge of any relevant facts, then that person’s testimony would be something that would be “not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” However, just because the other says that a proposed deponent has no relevant informant, that declaration alone does not automatically deny you the right to conduct that proposed deponent’s deposition.
As the appeals court stated, neither “the rules of discovery nor the courts of this State have held that a party must rely upon the representations of opposing counsel as to whether the requested discovery is relevant.” In order for the other side to block your proposed depositions, they have to give the court more. If you’ve given the court a proffer that shows how your desired depositions might potentially lead to discovering admissible evidence, then the other side can only block that deposition by offering specific proof that rebuts your proffer. The side opposing the depositions in this case didn’t have that. They had only general arguments, which isn’t enough under the Florida rules to stop the depositions from occurring.
What this dispute can teach any business person, whether or not you’re in the business of footwear sanitation devices, is that, in order to get the outcome you need from your breach of contract or other commercial litigation action, you need legal counsel that is effective during the trial. You also, though, need legal counsel that is effective before and after your trial. For that kind of powerful and reliable advocacy, count on the skilled South Florida commercial litigation attorneys at Stok Kon + Braverman.
Contact us online or by calling (954) 237-1777 to schedule your consultation to see how we can help you achieve your objectives.