final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Circuit Court for
Miami-Dade County, No. 14-29364 Jorge E. Cueto, Judge.
Victoria Méndez, City Attorney, and Douglas A.
Harrison, and Forrest L. Andrews, Assistant City Attorneys,
C. Blecke, for appellees.
SUAREZ, C.J., and LAGOA and LOGUE, JJ.
City of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and City of Miami
City Manager Daniel J. Alfonso, nonparties to the underlying
personal injury action, have filed a petition for writ of
certiorari seeking review of the trial court's order
denying their motions for protective order and compelling
their depositions. We deny the petition.
underlying case, plaintiffs Erika Vila, Virmari Pettis, Maria
Sosa, Barbara Weiss, and Mary Jo Weiss brought a personal
injury action against defendants Lemoni Café, Inc., 3G
Investment Group, Inc., Belony Alterma, and La Pizzeria Di
Lemoni, Inc. The action arose from an October 4, 2014
incident in which several sidewalk diners at the Lemoni
Café were injured when a vehicle crashed into them.
Months before the incident, Lemoni Café and La
Pizzeria Di Lemoni, Inc., were twice cited by the City of
Miami's Code Enforcement Board for operating an illegal
sidewalk café. The citations were issued in December
2011 and March 2014. After the March 2014 citation, a Code
Enforcement Board hearing was scheduled for June 3, 2014, but
it was continued and ultimately never held. Months later, the
affirmative defense, Defendants claim that the City of Miami
was negligent by failing to properly maintain the roads, the
intersection, and the area where the incident occurred, and
by failing to control the traffic and speed of cars in that
area. Plaintiffs have deposed at least seven City of Miami
employees to determine whether the Mayor's Office
authorized the Lemoni Café to continue operating its
sidewalk café and how Lemoni received a continuance of
the June 2014 code enforcement hearing. In response to
Plaintiffs' notices to depose City of Miami Mayor
Tomás Regalado and City Manager Daniel Alfonso, the
City filed motions for protective orders. The motions argued
that Plaintiffs cannot compel the mayor and city
manager's depositions because they failed to demonstrate
that the mayor and city manager were uniquely able to provide
relevant information which could not be obtained from other
sources. Following a November 2016 hearing, the trial court
denied the motions for protective orders and ordered that the
depositions be completed. The City timely filed its petition
for writ of certiorari and this court granted the City's
motion to stay the depositions.
Plaintiffs seek to depose the mayor because the defendant
cafés and landlord claim that after they received the
citations, the mayor's office permitted the illegal
sidewalk cafés to continue operating. Specifically, a
representative for the landlord stated in deposition that a
representative from the mayor's office gave him this
express permission. Plaintiffs seek to depose the city
manager because after the incident, he investigated the
matter to determine why the June 2014 hearing never occurred.
And as the past director of code enforcement stated in
deposition, she was demoted by the city manager after the
incident because she "didn't have the answers for
why this case was not heard" by the Code Enforcement
Board. In short, Plaintiffs seek "to discover how it was
that Defendant Landlord obtained a special favor from the
Mayor's office (or possibly the City Manager) allowing
the tenants to continue their illegal sidewalk cafes."
Rule of Civil Procedure 1.280(b) allows a party to discover
"any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the
subject matter of the pending action" or which
"appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery
of admissible evidence." "[T]rial courts have broad
discretion in overseeing discovery matters and in granting
and denying motions for protective order." Remington
Lodging & Hosp., LLC v. Southernmost House, LTD, 206
So.3d 764, 764 (Fla. 3d DCA 2016).
conclude that the trial court did not depart from the
essential requirements of law in compelling the depositions
of the mayor and city manager. Plaintiffs sought the
discovery by first deposing seven City of Miami officials who
presumably would have known how and why Lemoni
Café's illegal sidewalk café was permitted
to continue operating after receiving two citations from code
enforcement. Among these deposed officials are the code
enforcement director, a code enforcement supervisor, and a
representative from the mayor's office. But each ...