Probably so, but not quite yet.
The case of Venezia Lakes Homeowners Association, Inc. v. Precious Homes at Twin Lakes Property Owners Assoc. (Third DCA: Suarez, Logoa, and Salter) reverses a trial court and remands with instructions to grant summary judgment on the grounds that a pure bill cannot be used to determine if a lawsuit exists.
In this case, two adjacent homeowners’ associations share expenses on one of two lakes. Under the contract, Precious pays Venezia 30% of the expenses for one lake. Typically, they get an approved budget with a single category, “lake budget,” which they believe may include expenses for both lakes — thus they may be overpaying. When Precious asked for the service contracts which support the budget entry, they were refused. They filed a pure bill of discovery to get those service contracts.
The Panel held that the pure bill of discovery’s “usefulness [has] diminished greatly” and quotes a swath of cases from the various intermediate appellate courts. If there is no other remedy, it can be used to identify potential defendants, theories of liability, and information to meet conditions precedent to file suit. But, in very vague terms, it “cannot be used as a fishing expedition to see if a case exists.”
Here, the court ruled that the pure bill does “not lie to see if a cause of action exists nor… [to determine] the extent of damages.” Herein, the court suggested that alternative remedies were available including a declaratory judgment or breach of contract claim.