Menu

Practice Alert - New Decision on Sunshine in Litigation Act

October 21, 2009
Download   
Share Page

On October 21, 2009, the Third District Court of Appeal released: Ford Motor Co. v. Hall-Edwards, No. 3D08-3220 (Fla. 3d DCA Oct. 21, 2009) (Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing), granting a petition for writ of certiorari, quashing an order declaring various model years of the Ford Explorer a public hazard under section 69.081, Florida Statutes, the Sunshine in Litigation Act.

The appellate court stated, ""[t]he statute does not invite notices or motions simply to determine that a particular 'device, instrument, person, procedure, product, or condition [of a device, etc.]' is a public hazard. . . . the statute governs attempts by a litigant to avoid disclosure of specific information or documents to the public." (citing § 69.081, Fla. Stat.). Because there was no request by Ford Motor Company to limit disclosure of case-related documents and the trial court did not hold an evidentiary hearing prior to entering its order, the appellate court determined the trial court departed from the essential requirements of law in entering the order. The appellate court also found irreparable injury that should not await review until a plenary appeal, stating: "The label 'public hazard' is not to be affixed to an allegedly-dangerous product 'like you would buckle a collar on a bird dog or paste a tag on an express package that is being forwarded to a friend.' Attention to a proper evidentiary hearing and due process are plainly required. Such a label has significant and far reaching consequences in a day when court orders can make it around the world before the sun sets on the day they are filed. The respondent’s counsel, who include lawyers and firms involved in many other lawsuits against Ford, wasted no time in disseminating the order. The statute was intended to preclude the concealment of specific information about a 'public hazard,' not simply to provide a tactical pejorative for counsel to use in other cases." (Citations omitted).


©2019 Carlton Fields, P.A. Carlton Fields practices law in California through Carlton Fields, LLP. Carlton Fields publications should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information and educational purposes only, and should not be relied on as if it were advice about a particular fact situation. The distribution of this publication is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship with Carlton Fields. This publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or proceeding without the prior written consent of the firm, to be given or withheld at our discretion. To request reprint permission for any of our publications, please use our Contact Us form via the link below. The views set forth herein are the personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the firm. This site may contain hypertext links to information created and maintained by other entities. Carlton Fields does not control or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this outside information, nor is the inclusion of a link to be intended as an endorsement of those outside sites.

Subscribe to Publications

Disclaimer

The information on this website is presented as a service for our clients and Internet users and is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. Although we welcome your inquiries, please keep in mind that merely contacting us will not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Consequently, you should not convey any confidential information to us until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Please remember that electronic correspondence on the internet is not secure and that you should not include sensitive or confidential information in messages. With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.