17 May, 2024

DiFiore Argues Statues and Regulations to Set New Precedent In Atypical Insurance Tort Case

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In: Verdicts

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Tampa-Hub Partner, Dorothy DiFiore strategically analyzed relevant statutes and regulations surrounding the foster care system defining the term "case file," in order to argue that the term did not include all communications, such as texts and emails related to a child in dependency. By presenting a clear and comprehensive legal argument grounded in legislative intent and statutory language, she convinced the court to rule in favor of the foster care services provider. 

Overview of the Case

  • The client who manages foster care services, received a request from a minor child for texts and emails related to the child, claiming such communications were part of the child's dependency "case file" under the statute.
  • Our client disputed whether the term "case file" encompassed texts and emails between the social worker and involved parties, where DCF had never required foster care service providers to maintain those communications.
  • The court ruled in favor of the service provider, affirming that communications were not part of the case file and need not be provided free of charge to the minor.
  • This case establishes a precedent for all DCF subcontractors regarding the definition of the "case file" under Chapter 39.

Claims Made Against our Client

  • A writ of mandamus was filed to compel document production, alongside a demand for attorney's fees.
  • Our defense argued that the statute didn't mandate such production, and the legal landscape was too ambiguous to support a mandamus.

Defensive Strategy

  • Multiple statutes and regulations were presented to the court to demonstrate that "case file" is a specific term of art, mandating information rather than documents.
  • By emphasizing that documents weren't the focal point, we illustrated the child's position departed from the statute's language and we sought to clarify the term's scope for future purposes.

Impact on Final Outcome

  • A comprehensive discussion of Chapter 39's approach to the "case file" helped the court recognize the plaintiff's request exceeded statutory requirements.

Predicting the Future

  • This case underscores our ability to provide effective representation beyond typical insurance defense matters.
  • Addressing a unique legal issue in a non-traditional insurance context demonstrates our capacity for persuasive advocacy beyond the norm.

About QPWB

Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is the largest minority and women-owned law firm in the nation with jurisdiction in 45 states and territories in the U.S. allowing us to serve a broad spectrum of industries with over 100 areas of practice. Our lawyers provide representation for businesses and their leaders in litigation, regulatory, and corporate matters.

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