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Auto insurer goes to Supreme Court in hospital dispute

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance is asking the Florida Supreme Court to take up a dispute about whether a Jacksonville hospital needs to turn over information about contracts with health insurers.

A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal last month ruled in favor of Shands Jacksonville Medical Center, which now is known as UF Health Jacksonville, in the dispute stemming from personal-injury protection auto-insurance claims.

State Farm sought copies of contracts that could show the hospital agreeing to discounted reimbursement rates with health insurers, arguing that the information was necessary to determine if amounts billed by the hospital for auto-insurance injury claims were reasonable.

A Duval County circuit judge sided with State Farm, ordering the hospital to turn over contracts with 37 health insurers, but the appeals court overturned that decision, finding that it exceeded the "extent of discovery permissible" under parts of state law.

An online docket shows that State Farm took the case to the Supreme Court this month and filed an initial brief Monday.