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Bauduy v. Adventist Health System/Sunbelt, Inc.

Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District

November 15, 2019

YOLIE N. BAUDUY, AS NEXT FRIEND AND GUARDIAN OF D. B., AND D. B., INDIVIDUALLY, Appellants,
v.
ADVENTIST HEALTH SYSTEM/SUNBELT, INC., D/B/A FLORIDA HOSPITAL, Appellee.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for Orange County, Renee A. Roche, Judge.

          Jeremy K. Markman, of King & Markman, P.A., Orlando, for Appellants.

          Dinah S. Stein, Amanda Forti and Mark Hicks, of Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein, P.A., Miami and John W. Bocchino, Beytin, McLaughlin, McLaughlin, O'Hara, Bocchino & Bolin, P. A., Maitland, for Appellee.

          SASSO, J.

         This case presents the issue of whether the adoption of Article X, Section 25 of the Florida Constitution, commonly referred to as Amendment 7, [1] affects the statutory prohibition against the admissibility of certain incident reports set forth in section 395.0197, Florida Statutes (2018). Because we find no inconsistency between the language of Amendment 7 and section 395.0197(4)'s admissibility restrictions, we conclude the trial court properly relied on section 395.0197 in excluding the incident reports at trial. As a result, we affirm in all respects.

         BACKGROUND

         Appellants, Yolie N. Bauduy, as next friend and guardian of D.B., and D.B., individually, sued Appellee, Adventist Health Systems/Sunbelt, Inc., d/b/a Florida Hospital, for negligent security and breach of fiduciary duty. Appellants alleged that D.B., an involuntarily committed psychiatric patient, was sexually assaulted by another psychiatric patient at a behavioral health center. During discovery, Appellants requested copies of "any records made or received regarding prior adverse medical incidents consisting of sexual assaults, sexual relations between patients, aggression and/or coercive sexual misconduct" at the center. In response, they received twenty-four adverse medical incident reports from the hospital.

         Thereafter, the hospital filed a motion in limine regarding the use and admission of the adverse medical incident reports, contending, inter alia, that while the reports were discoverable pursuant to Amendment 7, they were still inadmissible at trial pursuant to section 395.0197(4). That statute states in relevant part:

395.0197 Internal risk management program.-
(4) The agency shall adopt rules governing the establishment of internal risk management programs . . . . Each internal risk management program shall include the use of incident reports . . . . The incident reports are part of the workpapers of the attorney defending the licensed facility in litigation relating to the licensed facility and are subject to discovery, but are not admissible as evidence in court.

§ 395.0197(4), Fla. Stat. (2018) (emphasis added). The restriction on admissibility contained in that section pre-existed the adoption of Amendment 7. See, e.g., Tallahassee Mem'l Reg'l Med. Ctr., Inc. v. Meeks, 560 So.2d 778, 781-82 (Fla. 1990) (holding that trial court erred in allowing use of incident reports prepared as part of hospital internal risk management program in impeachment where section 395.041[2] provided such reports "shall be subject to discovery, but shall not be admissible as evidence in court").

         Over Appellants' objection, the trial court granted the motion in limine, noting that the records, "while available under Amendment 7, statutorily are still not admissible at trial as evidence." At the June 2018 trial, Appellants again attempted to elicit testimony regarding and admit the adverse medical incident reports into evidence, but the successor judge ruled that they were inadmissible under the statute. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Appellee, specifically finding no negligence on Appellee's part that was a legal cause of loss, injury, or damage to D.B.

         Appellants now challenge the final judgment entered in favor of Appellee following the jury verdict. Among other arguments, Appellants contend the trial court erroneously relied on section 395.0197(4) in ...


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