After Investigation Has Ended, Even Investigator’s “Mental Impressions” Are Subject to Release Under Public Records Act

The foregoing case summary was prepared by Mary F. Smallwood, Esquire, of The Administrative Law Section of The Florida Bar.

The City of Avon Park (“City”) terminated Michael Rowan’s employment as Chief of Police. In the subsequent administrative hearing, at issue was Rowan’s investigation of certain city council members and alleged deletion of certain information from his work computer.

An investigator with the State Attorney’s Office was called in to investigate those issues; he prepared a report of his findings. The City subpoenaed the investigator to appear as a witness at the administrative hearing on Rowan’s termination, and to bring his report, which the City wanted to rely on. The State sought a circuit court order quashing the subpoena issued to the investigator. It also sought to prevent disclosure of portions of the report which constituted mental impressions of the investigator. The circuit court granted in part and denied in part the State’s petition. It concluded the investigator’s mental impressions were exempt from the Public Records Act and entered a protective order limiting the investigator’s testimony and protecting the mental-impression portions of the report.

The City appealed, arguing the report should be admissible in full and Rowan’s testimony should not be limited; Rowan cross-appealed, arguing that he should not be required to testify at all. The Second District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision excluding from evidence the portion of the report containing the investigator’s mental impressions. The court pointed to section 119.071(1)(d)1., Florida Statutes, which protects mental impressions from disclosure only until the conclusion of the litigation or adversarial administrative proceedings. In this case, the court concluded that the investigation had ended and no charges had been filed. Therefore, the investigator’s mental impressions were no longer protected.

Source:

City of Avon Park v. State of Florida, 117 So. 3d 470 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013) (Opinion filed July 17, 2013).

About the Author: The foregoing case summary was prepared by Mary F. Smallwood, Esquire, of The Administrative Law Section of The Florida Bar. It originally appeared in the Administrative Law Section Newsletter, Col. 36, No. 2 (Dec. 2013).

Florida Dentist Performs Disappearing Act With Patients’ Money

George Indest HeadshotBy George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A Pensacola, Florida, dentist has disappeared, with his patients’ cash, and now the Escambia Sheriff’s Office is looking for both, according to a number of news sources. According to the Pensacola News Journal, the dentist closed his practice months ago without alerting his patients or performing services for which they had already paid. On January 23, 2014, the sheriff’s office sent out a request for former patients of the dentist to come forward.

Click here to read the Pensacola News Journal article.

Dentist’s Checkered Past.

According to the Florida Department of Health (DOH), in 2003 and 2006, the dentist had disciplinary actions taken against him by the Florida Board of Dentistry. The Board ruled that the dentist was negligent and failed to meet minimum standards of dental performance for misdiagnosing a patient and failing to correct the patient’s dental issues. The Board also ruled that the dentist misrepresented himself as an orthodontic specialist, when he was a general practice dentist practicing in the area of orthodontics. Click here to view the discipline cases.

Currently, the DOH website lists the dentist’s license as active.

Victims Paid for a Number of Services Never Performed.

According to the Escambia Sheriff’s Office, a number of former patients have already come forward. They claim they paid for braces, dentures and other orthodontic work that was never performed. The sheriff’s office is looking for other former patients. The ABC station in Pensacola is reporting that these victims are organizing themselves on a Facebook group.

Click here to watch the news story.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Dentists.

The attorneys of The Health Law Firm provide legal representation to dentists in Department of Health (DOH) investigations, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigations, FBI investigations, Board of Dentistry and other types of investigations of health professionals and providers.

Our firm also routinely represents physicians, dentists, orthodontists, medical groups, clinics, pharmacies, home health care agencies, nursing homes and other health care providers in Medicare and Medicaid investigations, audits and recovery actions.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at http://www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Comments?

What do you think of this story? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Sources:

Robinson, Kevin. “ECSO: Investigators Seeking Victims of Disappearing Dentist.” Pensacola News Journal. (January 23, 2014). From: http://www.pnj.com/article/20140123/NEWS11/140123006/ECSO-Investigators-seeking-victims-disappearing-dentist?nclick_check=1

Fernandez, Jenise. “Updated: Orthodontist Disappearance Investigation.” WEAR. (January 23, 2014). From: http://www.weartv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/updated-orthodonist-disappearance-investigation-40700.shtml

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

 

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999. 

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