Order Restricting Informal Discovery Infringes on Litigant’s Right to Free Speech

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In this medical business dispute between a buyer and sellers of surgical centers, the trial court entered an order precluding the sellers from communicating with any third party, including those in other countries, about the facts of the case without first proceeding through the court’s formal discovery process. The appellate court reversed, holding that the order 1) “hinders the Sellers’ counsel’s ability to prepare their case for trial and places an unnecessary burden on the circuit court to oversee informal fact-finding,” and 2) “infringes on the Sellers’ right to free speech because it prohibits any informal investigation of the case without the Sellers’ first seeking permission from the court.”

SP Healthcare Holdings, LLC; ASC Holdings, Inc.; Rodolfo Gari, M.D.; Laurie Gari; Rodolfo Gari Jr., Grantor Retained Annuity Trust; and Laurie Gari Grantor Retained Annuity Trust v. Surgery Center Holdings, LLC; Armenia Ambulatory Surgery Center, LLC; Surgery Center Holdings, INC.; and H.I.G. Middle Markets, LLC, 38 Fla. L. Wkly D571a (Fla. 2d DCA Mar. 8, 2013).