Michael H. Brooks, Petitioner,
Emily H. Brooks, Respondent.
final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
for Writ of Certiorari-Original Proceeding. Circuit Court of
Walton County; Jeffrey E. Lewis, Judge.
W. Uhlfelder and Nicola J. Pappas of Daniel W. Uhlfelder,
P.A., Santa Rosa Beach, for Petitioner.
B. Adkinson of Adkinson Law Firm, LLC, DeFuniak Springs, for
the husband in a pending dissolution proceeding, asks us to
quash an order allowing Respondent wife to subpoena
husband's medical, psychotherapist, pharmacy, and
employment records from five non-parties. The order directs
that the documents be provided to husband's counsel and
then to the trial court for an in-camera inspection to
determine what documents will be furnished to wife. We grant
the petition in part and quash three of the five subpoenas.
parties lived together from 2005 to 2015, and were married in
2014. They had a daughter early in 2015. Husband filed for
dissolution that September. The court ordered 50/50
timesharing and equal decision-making authority while the
dissolution was pending.
claims she left the marital home during the summer of 2015
after husband committed an act of domestic violence against
her. She also claims husband was on disability for parts of
2011, 2012, and 2014 due to emotional instability. Her
present concerns about his mental health stem from his lack
of employment and his alleged angry, expletive-laced tirades
when they exchange custody of their daughter. She does not,
however, assert any issues with husband's care or
parenting of the child.
notified husband that she intended to subpoena his medical
and personnel files to gather information about his past
mental instability. Her subpoenas sought medical records from
husband's psychotherapist, a medical facility where he
was treated, and records from 2012 to the present from a
pharmacy where he filled his prescriptions. She sought his
entire personnel file from his 2013-2014 employer, and his
application and offer letter from his 2015-2016 employer.
argues that husband's mental health is relevant to child
custody, which is why she is seeking his medical records from
his psychotherapist and the organizations that participated
in his treatment. She also claims that his personnel file
from his 2013- 2014 employer may contain parts of his medical
record and his application for disability, also relevant to
his mental health. She asserts that this personnel file could
also be relevant to whether husband is voluntarily
underemployed, which could affect his child support
obligation. Finally, she argues that husband's
application and offer letter from his 2015-2016 employer will
be relevant to establishing his child support obligations
because it will contain salary information.
is the proper vehicle for reviewing a discovery order.
Allstate Ins. Co. v. Langston, 655 So.2d 91, 94
(Fla. 1995). "[R]eview by certiorari is appropriate when
a discovery order departs from the essential requirements of
law, causing material injury to a petitioner throughout the
remainder of the proceedings below and effectively leaving no
adequate remedy on appeal." Id. Because
irreparable harm is a jurisdictional threshold for certiorari
review, we must first determine whether a petitioner has made
a prima facie showing that the order will cause such harm.
O'Neill v. O'Neill, 823 So.2d 837, 839 (Fla.
5th DCA 2002); Morgan, Colling & Gilbert, P.A. v.
Pope, 798 So.2d 1, 3 (Fla. 2d DCA 2001). If the
petitioner demonstrates irreparable harm, we proceed to
determine whether the order departed from the essential
requirements of law. O'Neill, 823 So.2d at 839.
erroneous discovery orders cause irreparable harm, but
irreparable harm can come from discovery of "cat out of
the bag" type information that "could be used to
injure another person or party outside the context of the
litigation." Allstate, 655 So.2d at 94. Because
personnel files often contain sensitive, personal information
that can be used to harm a party outside the context of the
litigation, the discovery of irrelevant portions of the file
can cause irreparable harm. See Alterra Healthcare Corp.
v. Estate of Shelley, 827 So.2d 936, 945-46 (Fla. 2002).
Therefore, courts should conduct in-camera inspections of
personnel files to separate relevant information from