As counsel for the plaintiff in a case involving internet theft, Payton & Associates defeated a petition for certiorari. Plaintiff sued three defendants. Plaintiff settled with one of the defendants. One of the two remaining defendants sought discovery of the plaintiff’s settlement agreement with the third defendant, arguing that it needed this confidential document to prepare its set-off defense. The trial court refused to allow this discovery. The unhappy defendant sought review by certiorari claiming irreparable damage if it does not learn the terms of plaintiff’s settlement.
A majority of the panel found no irreparable harm and thus no jurisdiction to consider the merits of the appeal. Three Florida set-off statutes provide for the disclosure of settlement agreements in multi-defendant tort cases after a finding of liability and before entry of judgment, if necessary. Since Florida has adopted the doctrine of comparative fault, some courts have ruled because of the numerous reason a party might find to settle a case, a plaintiff’s settlement agreement is irrelevant to a defendant’s claim to set off because a settlement agreement is more than determination of percentage of liability. The conflict between the statutes and case law got the attention of the dissenting member of the panel who believes that the issue of whether the set-off statutes are abrogated by the comparative fault statute is ripe for Florida Supreme Court consideration.