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We began helping clients in Tallahassee and North Florida almost 35 years ago. Although some of the names on our door have changed through the years, our core mission has always been the same: We aggressively pursue justice for our clients, with compassion and personalized service, and deep gratitude for their trust in us. We live and play in North Florida, and our 11 attorneys and 16 staff members make volunteering a part of their work commitment. We believe in service to our community, and we actively work with local organizations to give back to those who have given so much to us.

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2015 Springtime Tallahassee Parade

The FSU Center for Innovative Collaboration in Medicine and Law Annual Conference with Panel Guest Dana Brooks

The Florida State University College of Medicine Center for Innovative Collaboration in Medicine and Law hosted its annual conference, "The Future of Medical Malpractice in Florida", on February 9, 2015, and our own Dana Brooks was a panel guest. The CME event took place at the FSU Alumni Center and consisted of four moderator led panel discussions. The panel was moderated by Marshall B. Kapp, J.D., M.P.H, the Director of the Center. It also consisted of several other distinguished panel guests including William Bell, J.D. (General Counsel, Florida Hospital Association) and William Large, J.D. (Florida Justice Reform Institute). One of the many topics addressed during this conference was "Was There, and Is There Now, "A Medical Malpractice Crisis" in Florida?", which was the topic of Dana's panel discussion. The audience included doctors, lawyers, law professors, and representatives from insurance companies.

Dana regarded the experience she had as a panel guest a positive one, and enjoyed speaking to all of the different types of attendees at the event. "I enjoyed a rigorous debate with representatives of both the hospitals and the leaders of the massive 2003 Tort Reform that resulted in nine consecutive years of windfall profits for the insurance industry that were never required to be passed on to the doctors and hospitals paying those obscene premiums for all those years. The attendees learned that while payouts on medical malpractice claims have steadily decreased and these claims represent less than 1% of all civil claims filed in our court system today, unfortunately the amount of medical malpractice harming and killing our citizens continues unabated".

Dana Brooks and FSU’s Winning Mock Trial Team

Judge Orders Plaintiff to Give Defendant Her Facebook Username and Password So Defendant Can Access Plaintiff's Account As Part of Discovery

The decision is Largent v. Reed (Pa. Common Pleas Nov. 8, 2011), and it involves a discovery request by the defendant in a civil case arising from a car accident. The defendant has filed a Motion to Compel Facebook Login Information in an effort to look through the plaintiff's account for evidence that she was exaggerating her injuries. Judge Walsh grants the request, ruling: Plaintiff . . . must turn over her Facebook login information to Defense counsel within 14 days of the date of the attached Order. Defense counsel is allotted a 21-day window in which to inspect [Plaintiff]'s profile. After the window closes, Plaintiff may change her password to prevent any further access to her account by Defense counsel. Judge Walsh spends pages 10-12 considering how the Stored Communications Act applies to this situation, and given that he relies on an article I wrote, let me offer a quick comment. Judge Walsh writes that the Stored Communications Act isn't implicated because the defendant seeks information directly from the plaintiff. As a result, neither the defendant nor the plaintiff is a regulated entity (known as an "RCS" or an "ECS") under the statute: In this case, [Defendant] seeks the information directly from [Plaintiff]. The SCA does not apply because [Defendant] is not an entity regulated by the SCA. She is neither an RCS nor an ECS, and accessing Facebook or the Internet via a home computer, smartphone, laptop, or other means does not render her an RCS or ECS. See Kerr, 72 Geo. Wash. L. Rev, at 1214. She cannot claim the protection of the SCA, because that Act does not apply to her. "The SCA is not a catch-all statute designed to protect the privacy of stored Internet communications." Id. Rather, it only applies to the enumerated entities. Largent being neither an ECS nor an RCS, the SCA does not protect her Facebook profile from discovery. While it's true that neither the plaintiff nor the defendant are regulated entities under the statute, Facebook clearly is. Facebook is an ECS provider in some ways and an RCS provider in other ways. As a result, the privacy of Facebook communications are protected by 18 U.S.C. 2701 of the Stored Communications Act, which protects ECS providers, in addition to 18 U.S.C. 1030, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which protects all computers generally. Both of these statutes prohibit accessing electronic accounts without authorization or in excess of authorization. So while ordering the plaintiff to disclose her password to the defendant doesn't itself violate the SCA or the CFAA, it's at least an open question if the defendant's future act of accessing the plaintiff's account might violate those statutes. As with many questions of the CFAA (and related provisions of the SCA), it hinges on what "authorization" means. Here's the question: If Facebook says that only the individual account holder can access the account; the individual account holder refuses voluntarily to disclose the password; and someone else accesses the account only because the account holder was forced by a judge to disclose the password, is the "someone else's" access authorized or not? Put another way, what governs authorization: The views of Facebook and the views of the account holder, or the views of the trial judge who granted the discovery request? It's not an easy question, creating a significant risk that granting the motion to compel invites the movant to commit a federal crime in the course of discovery.

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