Virtual Legal Associate is pleased to provide a hyperlinked snapshot of select Florida civil appellate opinions. Cases are arranged by practice area so you can quickly identify those that may be of particular interest. Please subscribe to Fully Briefed to receive regular updates in your Inbox.
Fuente v. FIGA (FSC): The Florida Supreme Court considered the scope of the liability of the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) for sinkhole losses, addressing two questions certified by the Second DCA to be of great public importance that turned on whether the scope of FIGA’s obligations was determined by the statutory provisions in effect when the policyholder’s policy was issued in 2009 or the more restrictive provisions in effect when the insurer was adjudicated insolvent in 2011. The Court held that FIGA’s obligations to a policy holder are statutory obligations that do not come into play until an insurer has been adjudicated insolvent, and that a policyholder’s rights against FIGA cannot become vested prior to the triggering of FIGA’s obligations by the adjudication of the insurer’s insolvency. Accordingly, the claim was governed by the definition of “covered claim” in the 2011 statute.
Nocari Investment v. Wells Fargo (3rd DCA): Appellants failed to timely file their initial brief, failed to obey an order to file the order appealed, and failed to obey an order to file their brief. As a result, this case was dismissed and counsel for appellants was ordered to show cause why appellants and their counsel should not be sanctioned for failing to file an initial brief or otherwise to comply with the court’s orders. In response to the order to show cause, appellants’ counsel explained his clients decided to abandon the appeal. He acknowledged he should have so advised this court and his opposing counsel, but indicates he failed to do so based upon simple oversight. The court found this explanation inadequate in light of the court orders which were not obeyed and the motion filed by opposing counsel to which no response was filed. Appellants’ counsel was referred to The Eleventh Circuit’s Local Professionalism Panel for further action.
Appellate and Civil Procedure
Kuhajda v. Borden Diary (FSC): The Court considered whether an offer of settlement that fails to address attorney’s fees is invalid even though no attorney’s fees have been sought in the case. The First DCA certified conflict with a decision of the Fourth DCA. The Court held that if attorney’s fees are not sought in the pleadings an offer of settlement is not invalid for failing to state whether the proposal includes attorney’s fees and whether attorney’s fees are part of the legal claim. The Court quashed the decision of the First DCA and approved the decision of the Fourth DCA.
American Airlines Federal Credit Union v. Fonseca (3rd DCA): American Airlines Federal Credit Union (“AAFCU”), the plaintiff below, appealed from a non-final order compelling arbitration and staying proceedings in the court below. Because the 3rd DCA found that the parties did not contract to arbitrate AAFCU’s claims, it reversed and remanded for further proceedings. The dispute involved two employment agreements, only one of which contained an arbitration provision.
MYD Marine Distributor v. Int. Paint (4th DCA): MYD Marine Distributor appealed an order assigning MYD’s interest in a pending lawsuit to a judgment creditor. The 4th DCA held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by making the assignment in proceedings supplementary and affirmed.
Baker v. Tunney (5th DCA): The Father appealed from the dismissal of his petition for determination of paternity, parental responsibility, child support, and related relief. The 5th DCA reversed because the trial court erroneously concluded that Florida was not the child’s home state and that it lacked jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. The parties agree that Baker is the minor child’s biological father. The child was born in Florida and lived here until the mother relocated to New York when the child was less than two weeks old. Both parties filed child custody petitions on the same day: the Father filed a petition in Florida, and the Mother filed in New York.
Erie Ins. Exchange v. Larose (2d DCA): Erie Insurance Exchange appealed the trial court’s order that denied its motion to dismiss the complaint, which was based on the argument that the Florida courts did not have personal jurisdiction over Erie, an out-of-state insurance company that does no business in Florida. While the trial court properly found that Larose had established a statutory basis for long-arm jurisdiction, the trial court erred in concluding that Erie had the requisite sufficient minimum contacts with Florida to satisfy constitutional due process. Therefore, the 2d DCA reversed and remanded for dismissal.
Wal-Mart v. Wittke (2d DCA): Wittke slipped and fell at a Walmart store. The case was tried and the jury returned a verdict in favor of Walmart. Following the verdict, the trial court granted Wittke’s motion for new trial and set aside the jury verdict. Walmart claimed the trial court reversibly erred in two ways. First, it argued that the court erroneously found that Walmart’s failure to follow safety policies and procedures required a negligence finding against Walmart. Second, Walmart argued that the court abused its discretion because competent substantial evidence was presented to allow a reasonable jury to find in favor of Walmart. The 2d DCA agreed with Walmart and reversed.
Hyperlinks only are provided for these cases.
Walton v. Deutsche Bank (1st DCA)
Franklin v. BOA (1st DCA)
Keeter v. The Bank of NY (1st DCA)
Garcia v. Christiana Trust (3rd DCA)
Person v. The Bank of NY (4th DCA)
*Please note that decisions are not final until any timely filed motions for rehearing are considered and disposed of by the appellate courts. Opinions are also subject to formal revision before publication in the Southern Reporter, 3rd Series.
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