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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal, which affirmed the entry of a directed verdict in favor of Defendant in this medical malpractice action, holding that the Third District erred by equating the proximate cause of an injury with the primary cause of an injury. In granting a directed verdict for Defendant, an anesthesiologist, the trial court held that, even assuming that Defendant was negligent in his care of the decedent, he did nothing more than place her in a position to be injured by the independent actions of third parties, i.e., the surgeons in this case. The district court affirmed, holding that there was no competent, substantial evidence in the record that would lead to the conclusion that Defendant was the “primary cause” of the decedent’s death. The Supreme court reversed, holding that the district court’s decision was inconsistent with precedent regarding the proximate causation standard. View "Ruiz v. Tenet Hialeah Healthsystem, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s summary denial of Appellant’s successive motion requesting postconviction relief under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963) and Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972), filed under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant’s claims were procedurally barred. Specifically, the Court held (1) Appellant’s claims were procedurally barred because the evidence at issue was not newly discovered because the record established that the information in Appellant’s claims could have been discovered at an earlier date through the exercise of due diligence; and (2) even if Appellant’s claims were not procedurally barred, his claims were without merit. View "Thomas v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the postconviction court denying Appellant’s successive motion to vacate a judgment of conviction of first-degree murder under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant failed to show error in the denial of his successive postconviction motion. In his postconviction motion, Appellant alleged violations of Giglio v. United States, 405 U.S. 150 (1972), and Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), as well as a claim of newly discovered evidence. The Supreme Court held (1) Appellant’s Giglio claim and Brady claim were both without merit; and (2) Appellant’s newly discovered evidence claim was both procedurally barred and without merit. View "Merck v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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In this case involving the proper method of applying a personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy deductible to a medical provider’s bill for hospital emergency services and care, the Supreme Court approved the Fifth District Court of Appeal’s decision, holding that the deductible should be subtracted from the total charges prior to application of the reimbursement limitation in Fla. Stat. 627.736(5)(a)1.b. While this case was pending in the Court, the Fourth District Court of Appeal issued an opinion in State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Care Wellness Center, LLC (Care Wellness), 240 So. 3d 22 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), holding that the deductible should be applied after charges are reduced under any fee schedule found in section 627.736. The Supreme Court approved the Fifth District’s decision in the instant case and disapproved the Fourth District’s decision in Care Wellness, holding that, under Fla. Stat. 627.739(2), the deductible should be applied to the total medical charges prior to reduction under the reimbursement limitation. View "Progressive Select Insurance Co. v. Florida Hospital Medical Center" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s order denying Appellant’s motion filed pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief under the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and the Supreme Court’s decision on remand in Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). Appellant was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death following the jury’s recommendation for death by a vote of eight to four. Appellant’s death sentence became final in 1990. The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s order denying relief, holding that Hurst did not apply retroactively to Appellant’s sentence of death. View "Duckett v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the postconviction court’s order denying Appellant’s motion filed pursuant to Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.851, holding that Appellant was not entitled to relief under the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and the Supreme Court’s decision on remand in Hurst v. State (Hurst), 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016). Specifically, The Supreme Court held that the Court’s prior denial of Appellant’s postconviction appeal raising similar claims was a procedural bar to the claim at issue in this appeal. Further, the Court held that Appellant’s claim did not entitle him to Hurst relief. Therefore, Appellant’s motion was properly denied. View "Finney v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the postconviction court’s summary denial of Appellant’s claim of intellectual disability, raised pursuant to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Hall v. Florida, 572 U.S. 701 (2014) and remanded for an evidentiary hearing but affirmed the denial of Appellant's claim seeking relief pursuant to Hurst v. Florida, 136 S. Ct. 616 (2016), and Hurst v. State, 202 So. 3d 40 (Fla. 2016), 137 S. Ct. 2161 (2017), holding that Appellant was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his intellectual disability claim. Appellant was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for each of the murders. The Supreme Court affirmed. Appellant later filed the successive postconviction motion at issue in this appeal. The postconviction court summarily denied each claim. The Supreme Court held (1) Appellant was entitled to an evidentiary hearing on his Hall claim for the same reasons that the Court granted evidentiary hearings in Walls v. State, 213 So. 3d at 346 and Franqui v. State, 211 So. 3d 1026 (Fla. 2017); and (2) Hurst did not apply retroactively to Appellant’s sentences of death. View "Foster v. State" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of first-degree murder and six sentences of death, holding that no reversible error occurred in the proceedings below and that each of the death sentences was appropriate. Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it declined Defendant’s request for self-representation; (2) there was no improper doubling of aggravators; (3) Defendant’s challenge to the constitutionality of the death penalty was procedurally barred; (4) Defendant’s guilty pleas were knowing, intelligent, and voluntary; and (5) each of Defendant’s death sentences was proportionate. View "Damas v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court accepted a question certified to it by the Second District Court of Appeal as to whether the pre-2014 version of Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-3.4(b) prevents the prevailing party in the underlying case from taxing as costs certain payments made to fact witnesses, answering that the party here was not permitted to pay a fact witness for the witness’s assistance with case and discovery preparation that was not directly related to the witness preparing for, attending, or testifying at proceedings. Rule 4-3.4(b) addresses witness payments and the prohibition against offering inducements to witnesses. In this dispute over the recoverable amount of prevailing party fees and costs, the Second District concluded that payments made to fact witnesses for their “assistance with case and discovery preparation” were permitted under rule 4-3.4(b) and were thus recoverable. The Supreme Court accepted certification and held (1) Rule 4-3.4(b) permits a party to pay a fact witness for the witness’s assistance with case and discovery preparation that is directly related to the witness preparing for, attending, or testifying at proceedings; and (2) this case must be remanded because it is unclear which witness payments were included in the trial court’s cost award. View "Trial Practices, Inc. v. Hahn Loeser & Parks, LLP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeal expressly construing a provision of the Florida Constitution and upheld the validity of an ordinance proposing an amendment to the Orange County Charter with the exception of certain language discussed in this opinion, holding that the language was in direct conflict with Fla. Stat. 100.041. The proposed amendment provided for term limits and non-partisan elections for county constitutional officers. Three Orange County constitutional officers filed a suit for declaratory and injunctive relief against the County challenging the county ordinance. The trial court upheld the portion of the charter amendment providing for term limits but struck down that portion providing for nonpartisan elections. The Fifth District affirmed. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below and upheld the validity of the ordinance upon the severance therefrom of offending language requiring the county constitutional officers to be elected during the primary election, holding that the offending language in the amendment for county constitutional officers to be elected on a nonpartisan basis may be stricken without rendering the remainder incomplete. View "Orange County, Florida v. Singh" on Justia Law