Articles Posted in Personal Injury

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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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Respondent, the representative for the estate of Phil Felice Marotta, filed an action as an Engle progeny plaintiff against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, an Engle defendant, asserting that Marotta’s addiction to Reynolds’ cigarettes caused his death by lung cancer. The jury found Reynolds liable on Respondent’s strict liability claim and awarded total compensatory damages of $6 million. Reynolds appealed the final judgment, and Marotta cross-appealed the trial court’s decision to preclude the jury from considering punitive damages on the product liability claim. The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed. The district court then certified a question to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered the rephrased question in the negative, holding that federal law does not implicitly preempt state law tort claims of strict liability and negligence by Engle progeny plaintiffs. The Court approved the Fourth District’s decision related to the preemption issue but quashed the decision below to the extent that it held that Respondent was precluded from seeking punitive damages. View "R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Marotta" 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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Florida Constitution Article X, section 25 (Amendment 7), adopted by citizen initiative in 2004, provides patients “a right to have access to any records made or received in the course of business by a health care facility or provider relating to any adverse medical incident.” “Adverse medical incident” includes “any other act, neglect, or default of a health care facility or health care provider that caused or could have caused injury to or death of a patient.” Amendment 7 gives medical malpractice plaintiffs access to any adverse medical incident record, including incidents involving other patients [occurrence reports], created by health care providers. The Federal Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Act, however, creates a voluntary, confidential, non-punitive system of data sharing of health care errors for the purpose of improving medical care and patient safety, 42 U.S.C. 299b-21(6), and establishes a protected legal environment in which providers can share data “both within and across state lines, without the threat that the information will be used against [them].” The Supreme Court of Florida reversed a holding that Amendment 7 was preempted. The Federal Act was never intended as a shield to the production of documents required by Amendment 7. The health care provider or facility cannot shield documents not privileged under state law by virtue of its unilateral decision of where to place the documents under the federal voluntary reporting system. View "Charles. v. Southern Baptist Hospital of Florida, Inc." on Justia Law

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Respondents - four female students and their parents - filed a complaint against their teacher and the Palm Beach County School Board, alleging that the teacher sexually molested the children and that the School Board was negligent. Respondents later filed a third amended complaint adding a claim for violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The School Board filed a motion to dismiss the Title IX claim, arguing that it was barred by the statute of limitations because it id not relate back to the filing of the original complaint. The trial court agreed and dismissed the claim. The Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed, finding that the Title IX claim did, in fact, relate back to the original negligence claims. The Supreme Court approved of the Fourth District’s decision and disapproved the line of cases establishing a bright-line rule that an amendment asserting a new cause of action cannot relate back to the filing of the original complaint, holding that Respondents’ Title IX claim did not relate back to Respondents’ original pleading. View "Palm Beach County School Board v. Janie Doe 1" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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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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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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This case arose from a malfunctioning HVAC system installed in a new building owned by Caduceus Properties. Caduceus sued Michael Gordon, the building architect, and Gordon initiated a third-party action against KTD Consulting Engineers and William Graney, who designed the HVAC system. The third-party claims were dismissed. After the statute of limitations governing Caduceus’ original action had expired, Caduceus successfully amended its complaint to name third-party defendants, KTD and Graney, as party defendants to the action. The trial court ruled against KTD and Graney. The court of appeal reversed, holding that the amended complaint did not relate back and was barred by the statute of limitations. The Supreme Court remanded, holding (1) an amended complaint, filed after the statute of limitations has expired, that names a party who had previously been made a third-party defendant as a party defendant, relates back under Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.190(c) to the filing of the third-party complaint; and (2) for the amended pleading to be timely in this situation, the third-party complaint must have been filed prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations, and the plaintiff’s claims in the amended complaint must arise from the same conduct, transaction, or occurrence set forth in the third-party complaint. View "Caduceus Props., LLC v. William G. Graney, P.E." on Justia Law

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ICI Homes, Inc. (ICI) had a general liability insurance policy with General Fidelity Insurance Company. In 2007, Katherine Ferrin, the owner of a residence constructed by ICI, was injured while using stairs installed by Custom Cutting, Inc. Ferrin filed suit against ICI. ICI, in turn, sought indemnification from Custom Cutting. The parties agreed to a $1.6 million settlement of Ferrin’s claim. ICI accepted $1 million from Custom Cutting’s insurer to settle its indemnification claim, which it paid to Ferrin. ICI and General Fidelity then claimed the other was responsible for paying Ferrin the remaining $600,000. Both parties paid $300,000 to Ferrin to settle Ferrin’s claim. ICI then filed suit against General Fidelity seeking return of the $300,000 ICI paid above the $1 million indemnification payment. General Fidelity counterclaimed seeking return of the $300,000 it had paid to Ferrin. The district court entered judgment for General Fidelity. The court of appeals certified two questions to the Supreme Court for resolution. The Supreme Court answered (1) the General Fidelity policy allowed ICI to apply indemnification payments received from Custom Cutting’s insurer towards satisfaction of its $1 million self-insured retention; and (2) the transfer of rights provision in the policy did not abrogate the made whole doctrine.View "Intervest Constr. of Jax, Inc. v Gen. Fidelity Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a medical malpractice wrongful death action against Cedars Healthcare Group, a facility at which Plaintiff’s father was a patient when he died, and other health care providers. Plaintiff sought records of adverse medical incidents from Cedars pursuant to Fla. Const. art. X, 25, which guarantees patients the right to “have access to any records made or received in the course of business by a health care facility or provider relating to any adverse medical incident.” The trial court overruled Cedars’ objection to the discovery request. Cedars subsequently petitioned the district court for a writ of certiorari. Citing to Fla. Stat. 381.028(7)(a), the district court granted the petition on the ground that the request to produce asked for “records of adverse medical incidents involving patients other than the plaintiff” but did not limit the production of those records to the same or substantially similar condition as the patient requesting access. Prior to the district court’s decision, the Supreme Court, in Florida Hospital Waterman, Inc. v. Buster, declared section 381.028(7)(a) invalid. Accordingly, the Court quashed the decision of the district court in this case and remanded for reconsideration pursuant to Buster. View "Ampuero-Martinez v. Cedars Healthcare Group" on Justia Law