In order to sue for negligence related to a car accident in Florida, you need to have sufficient evidence to support your claim. After filing suit, the plaintiff is also expected to truthfully respond to questions from the opposing side during the discovery process. One man’s failure to do so recently almost cost him his case, as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals explains in Bosque v. Rivera.
Mr. Bosque was 20 years old when he was involved in a two-car accident with Mr. Rivera in Orange County in January 2010. He claimed that he suffered back and neck injuries as a result of the collision and ultimately underwent surgery for those injuries nearly a year later. Bosque later sued Rivera for negligence, claiming that Rivera caused the accident, which – in turn – caused Bosque’s neck and back injuries.
Bosque responded “none” when asked during the discovery process prior to trial to list any car accidents, slip and fall accidents or worker’s compensation claims for which he reported an injury in the last year. Nevertheless, a medical treatment record from his hospital on the day of the accident indicated that Bosque had previously been in a car crash, but that he didn’t report any injuries related to that prior collision. Bosque answered “no” when asked during a later deposition whether he had been in an accidents prior to the crash with Rivera. He also denied having sustained any previous neck and back injuries.
Further investigation by Rivera’s defense team revealed that Bosque had indeed been involved in a 2006 accident in which the car in which he was a passenger skidded off the road and overturned. He declined transportation to the hospital and the only injury recorded was a laceration to Bosque’s right arm. Based on this information, a trial judge granted Rivera’s motion to dismiss the case. The judge concluded that Bosque perpetrated a fraud on the court by denying that he’d previously been in an accident and that this non-disclosure “eviscerate[d] the defense’s ability to provide a defense and does rise to a scheme to defraud.”
The Fifth District reversed the decision on appeal, however, holding that the lower court abused its discretion by finding that Bosque committed fraud on the court. “The dismissal of a lawsuit for fraud on the court is an extraordinary remedy to be utilized only when a deliberate scheme to subvert the judicial process has been clearly and convincingly proved,” the Court explained, citing its 2005 decision in Bologna v. Schlanger.
Here, the Court said the evidence didn’t necessarily show that Bosque had engaged in such a scheme. While his answer to the deposition question may have been false, the Court noted that Bosque voluntarily turned over the medical treatment record that referenced his previous accident. The Court also took issue with a record from Bosque’s college indicating that he had previously been sent for a chiropractic evaluation. It said the unsigned record didn’t indicate whether Bosque had actually received chiropractic treatment. As a result, the Court said these inconsistencies were best addressed at trial.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact the South Florida car accident attorneys at Anidjar & Levine. We represent clients throughout the region, including in Ft. Lauderdale, Hialeah and Coral Springs. Call us toll-free at 800-747-3733 or fill out and submit an online Contact Us form to schedule a free consultation.
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