“Fraud on the Court” in Florida Personal Injury Claims

Depositions are an important part of trial. A deposition is a witness’ sworn out-of-court testimony as part of the discovery process. In some cases, information obtained through a deposition may be used at trial. In Guillen v. Vang, a car accident victim was spotted on a surveillance camera undertaking physical activity that he previously claimed in his deposition that he could not perform as a result of a crash. Upon this finding, the trial court issued a final judgment dismissing his personal injury claim for fraud on the court.

The plaintiff appealed the trial court’s decision. Florida’s Fifth District Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s ruling, holding that the video evidence, on its own, was insufficient as evidence that the plaintiff had perpetrated fraud on the court. While it could affect the plaintiff’s credibility in the eyes of the jury, the discrepancy was not enough to dismiss the case entirely.

Under Florida law, the basic standard for “fraud on the court” entails conduct where it can be “demonstrated, clearly and convincingly, that a party has sentiently set in motion some unconscionable scheme calculated to interfere” with the court. Put another way, the individual must have actively mislead the court or tricked the court to his or her advantage. It is important to note that the evidence necessary to conclude “fraud on the court” is “clear and convincing,” which is higher than “preponderance of the evidence.” Thus, the burden of proof is quite high. Often, plaintiffs who offer inconsistent testimony may be suffering from poor memory, they may be making a mistake, or there may be a misunderstanding.

Here, the appellate court found that the plaintiff’s inconsistent testimony should be analyzed by a jury. Specifically, the court concluded that “any discrepancies between [the victim’s] testimony and the surveillance [footage] are best resolved by a jury.” This is because the plaintiff could very well challenge the validity of the surveillance footage or even explain earlier statements that may clarify the contradictory testimony. Either way, the matter should have been left up to the jury.

While inconsistent testimony is not typically sufficient to support a finding of “fraud on the court,” it can substantially weaken a party’s case. This is why it is important to work with an experienced lawyer who knows how to handle inconsistent testimony. If the court finds that a party did commit “fraud on the court,” there can be serious consequences, ranging from a complete dismissal of your case to having to pay the other side’s lawyers’ fees and costs.

If you or someone you know has been injured due to the negligence of another, we can assist you in seeking compensation for your injuries. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, knowledgeable Miami injury attorney Robert Dixon can help you get the monetary compensation you deserve. Our firm understands the nuances of personal injury law. We will work thoroughly to examine the details of your case and do whatever it takes to help you succeed. For more information, call us today at our toll-free number at 1-877-499-HURT (4878), or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

More Blog Posts:

The Role of “Med Pay” in Florida Slip and Fall Accidents, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, October 21, 2014

Dealing with Tire Blowout Accidents in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, October 21, 2014

Train Accidents in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, October 10, 2014

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