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RECENT RELEASES - FLORIDA SUPREME COURT - September 22

Criminal law -- Possession of firearm by convicted felon -- Exceptions -- Replica of antique firearm. The felon-in-possession statute is subject to competing reasonable constructions with respect to the definition of a “replica” of “antique firearm,” one of which may lead to interpretation that “replica” means an exact copy in every respect and the other of which emphasizes the ignition system as the distinctive feature of an “antique firearm” and therefore requires that the firearm possess a certain type of ignition system explicitly mentioned in section 790.001(1). The rule of lenity must be applied where a statutory term generates differing reasonable constructions. Section 790.23 is not unconstitutionally vague when the statutory definition of “antique firearm” set forth in section 790.001(1) is reasonably construed as emphasizing the type of firing system of the replica antique firearm as its distinctive feature. The state's contention that definition of “antique firearm” cannot apply to a “replica” firearm if a a scope has been attached cannot be sustained under the rule of lenity. VIEW OPINION (login required)

Insurance -- Life insurance -- STOLI schemes -- Incontestability -- A policy that has the statutorily required insurable interest at its inception, even where that interest is created as the result of a stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI) scheme set up for the insured to work with an investor to create the insurable interest necessary, hold the policy until the two-year contestability period expires, and then transfer the policy to an investor who would not have had the insurable interest to procure the policy in the first place, is nonetheless incontestable after two years, under the plain language of the incontestability statute. A party cannot challenge the validity of a life insurance policy after the two-year contestability period based on its creation through a STOLI scheme. VIEW OPINION (login required)

Torts -- Nursing homes -- Arbitration. A nursing home resident is not bound by an arbitration clause in a nursing home contract signed by the resident's son where the resident neither signed nor otherwise agreed to the contract. A nursing home resident may not be bound to a contract to which the resident never agreed under athe third-party beneficiary doctrine. The third-party beneficiary doctrine does not permit two parties to bind a third party without the third party's agreement merely by conferring a benefit on the third party. VIEW OPINION (login required)