2021 Florida Statutes (Including 2021B Session)
Rights of the parties in civil actions.
Rights of the parties in civil actions.
68.084 Rights of the parties in civil actions.—
(1) If the department, on behalf of the state, proceeds with the action, it has the primary responsibility for prosecuting the action, and is not bound by any act of the person bringing the action. The person bringing the action has the right to continue as a party to the action, subject to the limitations specified in subsection (2).
(2)(a) The department may at any point voluntarily dismiss the action notwithstanding the objections of the person initiating the action.
(b) Subject to s. 17.04, nothing in this act shall be construed to limit the authority of the department or the qui tam plaintiff to compromise a claim brought in a complaint filed under this act if the court determines, after a hearing, that the proposed settlement is fair, adequate, and reasonable under all the circumstances.
(c) Upon a showing by the department that unrestricted participation during the course of the litigation by the person initiating the action would interfere with or unduly delay the department’s prosecution of the case, or would be repetitious, irrelevant, or for purposes of harassment, the court may, in its discretion, impose limitations on the person’s participation, including, but not limited to:
1. Limiting the number of witnesses the person may call;
2. Limiting the length of the testimony of the person’s witnesses;
3. Limiting the person’s cross-examination of witnesses; or
4. Otherwise limiting the participation by the person in the litigation.
(d) Upon a showing by the defendant that unrestricted participation during the course of the litigation by the person initiating the action would be for purposes of harassment or would cause the defendant undue burden or unnecessary expense, the court may limit the participation by the person in the litigation.
(3) If the department elects not to proceed with the action, the person who initiated the action has the right to conduct the action. If the Attorney General, as head of the department, or the Chief Financial Officer, as head of the Department of Financial Services, so requests, it shall be served with copies of all pleadings and motions filed in the action along with copies of all deposition transcripts at the requesting department’s expense. When a person proceeds with the action, the court, without limiting the rights of the person initiating the action, may nevertheless permit the department to intervene and take over the action on behalf of the state at a later date upon showing of good cause.
(4) Regardless of whether the department proceeds with the action, upon a showing by the department that certain actions of discovery by the person initiating the action would interfere with an investigation by the state or the prosecution of a criminal or civil matter arising out of the same facts, the court may stay such discovery for a period of not more than 60 days. Such a showing shall be conducted in camera. The court may extend the 60-day period upon a further showing in camera by the department that the criminal or civil investigation or proceeding has been pursued with reasonable diligence and any proposed discovery in the civil action will interfere with an ongoing criminal or civil investigation or proceeding.
(5) Notwithstanding paragraph (2)(b), the state may elect to pursue its claim through any available alternate remedy, including any administrative proceeding to determine a civil money penalty. If any such alternate remedy is pursued in another proceeding, the person initiating the action shall have the same rights in such proceeding as the person would have had if the action had continued under this section. Any finding of fact or conclusion of law made in such other proceeding that has become final shall be conclusive on all parties to an action under this section. For purposes of this subsection, a finding or conclusion is final if it has been finally determined on appeal to the appropriate court, if all time for filing such an appeal with respect to the finding or conclusion has expired, or if the finding or conclusion is not subject to judicial review.
(6) The Department of Financial Services, or the department, may intervene on its own behalf as a matter of right.
History.—s. 4, ch. 94-316; s. 104, ch. 2003-261; s. 4, ch. 2007-236; s. 5, ch. 2013-104.