Monday, April 22nd, 2013 | Author:

The Corporate Designee Deposition- Important Florida Decision for Practitioners

In Carriage Hills Condominium, Inc. v. JBH Roofing & Constructors, Inc., 2013 WL 1136399 (Fla. 4th DCA March 20, 2013), Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal gave, perhaps, the most comprehensive summary of the purpose and effect of a “corporate representative” deposition to be taken pursuant to Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.310(b)(6) that the State of Florida has ever seen.   As Florida practitioners have encountered numerous times, plaintiff-corporations are often asked to designate, as a deponent, the “person with the most knowledge of the allegations of the complaint.” In Carriage Hills, the court found this designation to be “unduly broad” and wrote that the corporate representative deposition rule does not even require the testifying individual to be the “person with the most knowledge.”  (It is possible that the “unduly broad” determination may be specific to this case but this remains to be seen.)  The court wrote that a corporate representative designated to testify on a particular topic serves as the “voice” that will bind the corporation on that topic.  The decision pointed out that the designating entity has an obligation to prepare the designee and, if it does not do so, the corporation could be subject to sanctions.  The opinion drew upon the decisions of federal courts throughout the land as Florida’s civil procedure rules are patterned off the federal rules.  This is a must-read decision for Florida practitioners.  The quick lesson is that lawyers must specify,  succinctly, the topic areas they want to discuss in deposition notices and corporations must designate and educate the person who will serve as the corporation’s mouthpiece on a particular subject.  As the court noted, failing to educate the deponent can result in sanctions.

This article does not constitute legal advice or the formation of an attorney-client relationship, and is not for re-publication without express permission of the author.

Brad Kelsky