Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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Heather Worley fell in the parking lot of Central Florida Young Men’s Christian Association, Inc. (YMCA). Worley's counsel filed a negligence suit against YMCA on behalf of Worley, seeking to recover damages, including the costs of her treatment from certain healthcare providers. During discovery, YMCA sought information as to whether Worley was referred to the relevant treating physicians by her counsel. The trial court required Worley to produce the information. Worley filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Fifth District court of Appeal, arguing that the trial court order required the production of information protected by the attorney-client privilege. The district court denied the certiorari petition. The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Fifth District, holding that the attorney-client privilege protects a party from being required to disclose that his or her attorney referred the party to a physician for treatment. View "Worley v. Central Florida Young Men's Christian Ass’n" on Justia Law

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In 2003, Respondents obtained an amended judgment against Petitioner in an Arizona federal district court. In 2006, Respondents registered the Arizona judgment in Florida under the Florida Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (FEFJA). In 2008, the judgment became unenforceable in Arizona because Respondents failed to renew the judgment prior to the expiration of Arizona’s five-year statute of limitations. In 2012, Respondents obtained a writ of execution in Florida. The trial court quashed the motion with prejudice, concluding that the Arizona judgment was not enforceable in either Arizona or Florida because Arizona’s five-year statute of limitations continued to control after domestication of the Arizona judgment in Florida under the FEFJA. The court of appeal reversed, holding that Florida’s twenty-year statute of limitations found in Fla. Stat. 95.11(1) applied and began to run from the date of the Arizona judgment. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Florida’s twenty-year statute of limitations is applicable to the enforcement of a foreign judgment after it is recorded under the FEFJA. View "Patrick v. Hess" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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Mother and Father were divorced in Colorado. After Father died, Mother and her two minor children moved to Florida. Grandparents subsequently initiated a proceeding in Colorado seeking visitation with the children. Mother filed a separate action in Florida to register the Colorado judgment dissolving her marriage and for a judicial determination that Grandparents had no legal right to timesharing with her children. Colorado then issued a judgment awarding Grandparents visitation with the children (the Colorado order). Thereafter, the Florida court entered a final order registering and domesticating the Colorado order. Mother appealed, arguing that the Colorado order was unenforceable as a matter of Florida law and public policy because it violated “childrearing autonomy.” The court of appeal concluded that the Colorado order was entitled to full faith and credit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Florida was required to enforce the Colorado order despite the fact that entry of a similar judgment by a Florida court under the circumstances presented here would be prohibited by the Florida Constitution. View "Ledoux-Nottingham v. Downs" on Justia Law

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Richard and Jason Debrincat filed the original civil proceeding against a group of defendants. Stephen Fischer was later added as a party defendant, but the Debrincats subsequently dropped Fischer from the underlying proceeding. Fischer then brought an action against the Debrincats for malicious prosecution. The Debrincats moved for summary judgment, arguing that the litigation privilege afforded them immunity for their conduct of joining Fischer as a defendant in the underlying lawsuit. The trial court granted summary judgment and entered a final judgment for the Debrincats. The Fourth District reversed, holding that th litigation privilege cannot be applied to bar the filing of a malicious prosecution claim. The Supreme Court approved the Fourth District’s decision, holding that the litigation privilege does not bar the filing of a claim for malicious prosecution that was based on adding a party defendant to a civil suit. View "Debrincat v. Fischer" on Justia Law

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In 1994, Petitioner filed this lawsuit against his brother and nephew (together, Respondents) alleging claims resulting from deteriorating business relationships within the family. The first trial resulted in a hung jury, and mistrial was declared. Petitioner’s subsequent amendments to his complaint culminated in a fifth amended complaint filed in 2009. The jury found in favor of Petitioner on all three counts he alleged. On appeal, the Third District Court of Appeal concluded that Respondents were entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the evidence did not support any of Petitioner’s claims. The district court also reversed on the grounds that Petitioenr’s claims were barred by the statute of limitations, as the fifth amended complaint did not relate back to the original. The Supreme Court quashed the Third District’s decision, holding (1) an amendment asserting a new cause of action can relate back to the original pleading where the claim arises out of the same conduct, transaction, or occurrence as the original; and (2) there was sufficient evidence to sustain the jury’s verdict on Petitioner’s breach of oral promise claim. Remanded. View "Kopel v. Kopel" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, an inmate, filed a pro se complaint against four employees of the Santa Rosa County Jail, alleging negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress relating to his attack at the jail by two inmates. Petitioner also raised federal law claims against the jail employees. The circuit court dismissed the complaint, concluding that Petitioner’s state law claims were barred by the one-year statute of limitations period in Fla. Stat. 95.11(5)(g) and that Petitioner’s federal law claims were governed by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), and exhaustion of administrative remedies was mandatory. The First District Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court quashed the First District’s decision and remanded for further proceedings, holding (1) the one-year statute of limitations period in section 95.11(5)(g) did not apply in this case, but rather, the four-year statute of limitations in Fla. Stat. 768.28(14) governed; and (2) the circuit court erred in dismissing Petitioner’s federal law claims, as the burden fell on the jail employees to demonstrate that Petitioner failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. View "Green v. Cottrell" on Justia Law

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Relying on the reputations of Defendants, Plaintiffs, the owners of one of South Florida’s largest general contractors, initiated a custom adjustable rate debt structure (CARDS) transaction. The IRS later issued notices of deficiency disallowing tax deductions based on the CARDS transaction on Plaintiffs’ federal tax returns on the ground that the CARDS transaction lacked economic substance. The tax court upheld the notice of deficiency. Thereafter, Plaintiffs filed a diversity action against Defendants in a federal district court alleging several tax law claims. The district court dismissed the complaint, concluding that the statute of limitations on Plaintiffs’ claims had run. Plaintiffs appealed. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit certified a question of state law to the Supreme Court regarding whether Plaintiffs’ claims accrued at the time the IRS issued the notice of deficiency or when Plaintiffs’ underlying dispute with the IRS was concluded or final. The Supreme Court held that Taxpayers’ claims accrued at the time their action in the tax court became final, and that action became final ninety days after the tax court’s judgment, at the expiration of the time period for an appeal of that judgment. View "Kipnis v. Bayerische Hypo-Und Vereinsbank" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was the victim of an armed robbery, carjacking, and shooting that occurred in the parking lot of an Embassy Suites hotel. Petitioner filed a negligence action against Hilton Hotels and related companies (collectively, Respondents). Following one mistrial, the parties commenced a second trial. Ultimately, the jury found that Petitioner sustained a total of $1.7 million in damages, and the trial court entered judgment in accordance with the verdict. Thereafter, Petitioner filed a motion for attorneys’ fees. The trial court denied the motion. The Fifth District affirmed, concluding that Petitioner’s pretrial offers of settlement to Respondents did not satisfy the requirements of Fla. Stat. 768.79 and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.442. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding that the plain language of both section 768.79 and Rule 1.442 indicated that Petitioner was entitled to attorneys’ fees because he submitted sufficient offers to settle his claims against Respondents and obtained satisfactory judgments in his favor. View "Anderson v. Hilton Hotels Corp." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff served Defendants with offers of judgment. Plaintiff ultimately prevailed on her negligence claim against Defendants and was awarded damages in excess of the amount contained in her offers of judgment, enough to trigger the payment of fees under Fla. Stat. 768.79(1). The trial court granted Plaintiff’s motion to tax attorney’s fees and costs, determining that Plaintiff’s failure to include the attorney’s fees language in the offer of judgment did not create an ambiguity because Plaintiff did not seek attorney’s fees in her complaint. The First District Court of Appeal reversed the order granting Plaintiff’s motion to tax attorney’s fees and costs, holding that an offer of settlement that fails to address attorney’s fees is invalid even where no attorney’s fees have been sought in the case. The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the First District, holding that 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 if attorney’s fees are not sought in the pleadings. View "Kuhajda v. Borden Dairy Co. of Alabama" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

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After Father and Mother were assigned case plans by the Department of Children & Families (DCF) regarding their two children, the children were reunified with Mother. The trial court then terminated supervision by DCF and issued an order limiting the ability of Father to seek future visitation to the discretion of the children. Father sought review, alleging that the trial court denied him due process by terminating DCF supervision without a motion and departed from the essential requirements of the law when it limited his future contact with his children to the sole discretion of the children. The Third District granted Father’s second claim and quashed the trial court’s order to the extent that it limited Father’s contact with the children to the children’s sole discretion. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether a post-dependency order that is subject to future modification for purposes of child welfare and parental visitation is reviewable as a final order by appeal, as an interlocutory order reviewable by appeal, or as a non-final order reviewable by certiorari. The Supreme Court affirmed the decision below, holding that a post-dependency order that is subject to future modification for purposes of child welfare and parental visitation is a non-final order reviewable by certiorari. View "M.M. v. Fla. Dep’t of Children & Families" on Justia Law