On Aug. 26, by a majority of 6–1, the Florida Supreme Court adopted, effective immediately, a new Florida Rule of Civil Procedure, codifying a long-recognized protection for high-level government officials and extending that protection, for the first time, to high-level corporate officers. See In re Amendment to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.280, No. SC21-929 (Fla. 2021). This development should be a welcome one for companies that are or may in the future be engaged in litigation in Florida’s state courts.
What has come to be known as the “apex doctrine” has been recognized in decisional law in Florida for at least 30 years, to protect present and former government department heads from being subject to discovery depositions over objection “unless and until the opposing parties have exhausted other discovery and can demonstrate that the agency head is uniquely able to provide relevant information which cannot be obtained from other sources.”