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Rodriguez v. City of South Miami

Florida Court of Appeals, Third District

May 9, 2018

Carlos Rodriguez, Petitioner,
v.
City of South Miami, et al., Respondents.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          A Writ of Certiorari to the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Lower Tribunal No. 13-12254 Jose M. Rodriguez, Judge.

          BERRIO & BERRIO, P.A., and Juan D. Berrio, for petitioner.

          Thomas F. Pepe, City Attorney, for respondents.

          Before SALTER, EMAS and FERNANDEZ, JJ.

          EMAS, J.

         Petitioner Carlos Rodriguez seeks certiorari review of the trial court's order compelling Rodriguez to sign a document authorizing the release of certain mental health records and production of those records to respondent City of South Miami. Because these records are protected by the psychotherapist-patient privilege, and because the City of South Miami failed to meet its burden in overcoming this privilege, the trial court's order departs from the essential requirements of law, resulting in material injury that cannot be corrected on postjudgment appeal. We therefore grant the petition and quash the order under review.

         On April 8, 2013, the City of South Miami filed a petition seeking a temporary and permanent injunction (restraining order) on behalf of itself and nine of its elected or appointed officers and employees (collectively, "the City").

         The following day, and pursuant to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.610, the trial court entered an ex parte temporary restraining order in favor of the City. That order was continued in force by a court order on May 3, 2013, and remained in force for nearly four years. In March 2017, Rodriguez filed a motion to dissolve the temporary restraining order. In his motion, Rodriguez alleged that the temporary restraining order should never have been issued in the first place because the allegations in the City's petition were legally insufficient. Specifically, Rodriguez contended that the City's petition did not satisfy the requirements for an injunction under section 784.046(1)(b), Florida Statutes (2013).[1] Rodriguez's motion seeking dissolution of the temporary injunction was directed solely at the alleged legal insufficiency of the original petition filed by the City.

         However, in the concluding paragraph of his motion to dissolve, Rodriguez added the following sentence: "[Rodriguez] is stable, taking medication, and regularly seeing his psychiatrist Enrique G. Casuso."

         Seizing upon this single sentence, the City asserts that Rodriguez's motion was "premised on the allegation that [Rodriguez] was mentally stable and implied that his stability was because he was taking medication and seeking treatment." Accordingly, the City subpoenaed several of Rodriguez's healthcare providers for Rodriguez's medical records, and when Rodriguez objected, the City filed a motion to compel Rodriguez to sign a medical authorization for his healthcare providers to produce his medical records and to testify as to the records and Rodriguez's medical condition.

         Rodriguez objected and asserted a psychotherapist-patient privilege, pursuant to section 90.503(2), Florida Statutes (2017). The City contended that Rodriguez placed his mental health status at issue in his motion to dissolve the temporary injunction, and thus, was no longer protected by the psychotherapist-patient privilege. The trial court overruled Rodriguez's objection and entered an order requiring Rodriguez to "sign a medical authorization including release of sensitive mental health records of the facilities of Dr. Enrique Casuso, Jackson Health Systems, South Florida Evaluation and Treatment Center and South Winds Hospital, to the attorney for the City of South Miami within 15 days of this order."

         We have jurisdiction to review, by certiorari, the order compelling production of Rodriguez's mental health records. "A discovery order that requires the production of information and records that are protected by the statutory psychotherapist-patient privilege is reviewable by certiorari." Brown v. Montanez, 90 So.3d 982, 985 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012). See also Cruz-Govin v. Torres, 29 So.3d 393 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010).

         To seek certiorari relief, Rodriguez must demonstrate that the order 1) constitutes a departure from the essential requirements of the law; 2) resulting in material injury for the remainder of the case; 3) that cannot be corrected on postjudgment appeal. Bd. of Trs. of Internal Improvement Trust Fund v. Am. Educ'l Enters., LLC, 99 So.3d 450, 454 (Fla. 2012); Reeves v. ...


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