LOG IN
    SELECT A PUBLICATION:
Florida Law Weekly
FLW Supplement
FLW Federal
User Name:
Password:
 
Forgotten your password?


CONTACT
    Toll-free: 800-351-0917
    E-mail us
    Submit Opinions

PLACE AN ORDER
    Print Editions
    Online Editions
    Bound Volumes
    2/24-Hour Online Access


OUR PUBLICATIONS
    Florida Law Weekly
    FLW Supplement
    FLW Federal
    Collected Cases
    Sample FLW Online


RESEARCH
    Cross Citations
    Week In Review
    Rule Revisions
    Review Granted
    Current Issue Index
     Civil Section
     Criminal Section
    2014 Cumulative Index
     Civil Section
     Criminal Section
    2013 Cumulative Index
     Civil Section
     Criminal Section
    Florida Statutes
    Helpful Links



  
Federal New Releases

New Releases
from Federal Courts

Viewing the full text of these opinions will require logging in with your user name and password.

Contracts -- Sales -- Accounting -- A Saudi Arabian company that contracted with a Florida-based aircraft parts dealer to sell aircraft parts on consignment sued its contracting party for breach of contract and conversion and requested an accounting -- District court abused discretion when it refused to grant plaintiff an accounting to determine amount, if any, due from defendant -- District court failed to recognize that the fiduciary nature of relationship between parties alone constituted sufficient grounds for an accounting under Florida law and erroneously concluded that an action for damages afforded an adequate remedy at law -- A court-directed accounting was appropriate remedy where defendant, as a consignee, had a fiduciary obligation to account for its handling of plaintiff's parts, parties' contracts explicitly spelled out defendant's duty to keep complete and accurate records and plaintiff's right to review those records, and defendant concededly failed to comply with its accounting and reporting obligations -- A court-directed accounting was proper remedy because plaintiff's breach of contract claim did not constitute an adequate remedy at law where discovery could not provide the means to force defendant, who possessed all relevant details regarding disposition of goods and who had substantial motivation to frustrate discovery process, to disgorge the requisite information for plaintiff to prove damages
VIEW OPINION

Insurance -- Automobile liability -- Bad faith failure to settle -- Mother whose son was injured in automobile accident commenced action against tortfeasor's insurer alleging insurer acted in bad faith for failing to settle underlying claim against insured tortfeasor by insisting that plaintiff sign release that included indemnification and property damages clauses as condition of settlement -- Material questions of fact as to whether insurer acted in bad faith under a totality of circumstances preclude summary judgment in favor of insurer -- Court would not ignore errata sheet that resulted in material change to plaintiff's deposition testimony as to whether she would have accepted a settlement from insurer -- Even if court struck errata sheet, it would not have an effect on outcome of pending summary judgment motion, because, apart from errata sheet, plaintiff's deposition testimony created question of fact as to whether she would have accepted settlement from insurer -- Genuine issues of material fact regarding whether plaintiff was willing to settle underlying claim against insured tortfeasor precludes summary judgment on action alleging insurer acted in bad faith -- Factual question regarding whether insurer refused to remove release's indemnification language at a point in time when case may have settled within policy's coverage limits precludes summary judgment on plaintiff's claim of bad faith
VIEW OPINION

Insurance -- Automobile liability -- Bad faith refusal to settle -- Discovery -- Claim file -- Attorney-client privilege -- Communications in insurer's claim file between insured and insured's counsel in underlying action and between insurer and insured's counsel are protected by attorney-client privilege in instant third-party bad faith action -- Insurer should not be compelled to produce attorney-client protected correspondence and should not be compelled to produce activity log excerpts that pertain to said communications -- Personnel files -- Personnel and/or training file of insurer's adjuster who was directly involved in negotiating terms of release that insurer was requiring plaintiff to sign as a condition of settlement is subject to discovery, as adjuster's personnel file is relevant to plaintiff's claim that insurer acted in bad faith by requiring plaintiff to sign release -- Production of personnel files of adjusters who had only incidental or minimal involvement in handling the claim should not be compelled -- Request for personnel files of these adjusters is overly broad, seeks information that has no bearing on claims and defenses at issue, could not lead to discovery of admissible evidence, and seeks highly personal and confidential information for which plaintiff has not established any legitimate need -- Need to protect constitutional privacy rights inherent in personnel files outweighs need for such discovery under facts of case
VIEW OPINION

Bankruptcy -- Fraudulent transfers -- Avoidance -- Prepetition transfers made by one of consolidated debtors to defendant, as mortgage payments for a seller of faux securities at heart of debtor's Ponzi scheme, are avoidable as constructively fraudulent transfers under both federal and state fraudulent transfer law -- Transfers are avoidable as constructive fraudulent transfers under Bankruptcy Code and Florida Statutes via Section 544 of Bankruptcy Code where debtor was insolvent at time transfers were made, as undisputed evidence shows that a Ponzi scheme was ongoing while debtor made the transfers to defendant, and debtor did not receive reasonably equivalent value for transfers or receive any value or benefit from mortgage payments to defendant -- Recoverability of transfers -- With respect to two of transfers which were applied to note and mortgage on Illinois property, trustee cannot recover monies from defendant as defendant has no liability to repay the transfers under “single satisfaction rule”because debtor was fully repaid for transfer when subsequent transferee repaid transfer to defendant by returning proceeds from sale of mortgaged property to debtor -- Summary judgment on remaining issues relating to recoverability of transfers paid by debtor toward note and mortgage encumbering Florida property is precluded by factual issues as to whether debtor has been repaid, so that “single satisfaction rule” absolves defendant from liability, and whether equitable considerations excuse defendant's liability -- Defendant was initial transferee of these transfers and cannot benefit from good faith defense of Section 550(b) in connection with recoverability of transfers -- Issue of whether equitable considerations should excuse defendant from repaying transfers until further evidence is presented at trial not considered on summary judgment
VIEW OPINION

Bankruptcy -- Attorney's fees -- Disgorgement -- Chapter 7 trustee is entitled to turnover of legal fees paid to law firm pursuant to limited representation agreement requiring attorneys to represent debtor both before and after debtor's Chapter 7 bankruptcy case was filed without law firm signing the petition, formally appearing in case or directly filing the petition, attending the meeting of creditors with debtor, or performing other minimal duties required of attorneys representing debtors -- A lawyer cannot provide a debtor with very limited representation for a reduced fee without complying with court's rules -- Law firm's attempt to limit their services is prohibited by Local Rule 9011-1 and Florida Rules of Professional Conduct -- Trustee is entitled to order requiring law firm to pay filing fee and to return balance of their fee directly to debtor
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Habeas corpus -- Argument -- Court of Appeals erred in holding that state supreme court unreasonably applied clearly established federal law by classifying trial court's restriction of closing argument as trial error rather than structural error -- Assuming for sake of argument that trial court violated constitution by preventing defendant from simultaneously contesting criminal liability and presenting affirmative defense of duress, it was not clearly established that trial court's improper restriction of closing argument to prohibit argument in the alternative amounted to structural error
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Habeas corpus -- Sentencing -- Federal guidelines -- Career offender -- Federal prisoner may not relitigate an alleged misapplication of advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines in a collateral attack on a final sentence -- Appeals -- Court exercises its discretion to consider merits of en banc appeal in this case despite defective COA -- Going forward, certificate of appealability, whether issued by court of appeals or district court, must specify what constitutional issue jurists of reason would find debatable, and failure to specify that issue will result in vacatur of the certificate -- District court lacked authority to consider whether defendant was erroneously sentenced under guidelines where error complained of, an erroneous career offender designation based on prior conviction for felony child abuse under Florida law, was not fundamental defect that inherently resulted in complete miscarriage of justice -- Prisoner may challenge a sentencing error as a “fundamental defect” on collateral review when he can prove that he is either actually innocent of his crime or that a prior conviction used to enhance his sentence has been vacated, and defendant's motion alleges nothing of the kind
VIEW OPINION

Elections -- National Voter Registration Act -- Florida violated section 8(c)(2)(A) of NVRA, which requires state to “complete not later than 90 days prior to the date of a primary or general election for Federal office, any program the purpose of which is to systematically remove the names of ineligible voters from the official lists of eligible voters,” by conducting a program to systematically remove suspected non-citizens from voter rolls within 90 days of a federal election -- Remand with instructions to district court to enter order declaring that Florida Secretary of State's actions were in violation of 90-day provision of NVRA and to grant such relief as needs and interests of justice require -- Standing -- Individual plaintiffs who had been wrongly identified as non-citizens in a prior program had standing to challenge that prior program, although they were ultimately not prevented from voting in prior election -- These individuals also had standing to prospectively challenge second attempt to remove non-citizens from voter roles because there was a realistic probability that they would be misidentified due to unintentional mistakes in data-matching process -- Organizational plaintiffs had standing to challenge program based on both a diversion-of-resources and an associational standing theory -- Mootness -- Claims related to 2012 elections are not moot because dispute is capable of repetition yet evading review
VIEW OPINION

Labor relations -- Fair Labor Standards Act -- Overtime -- Former employees of Florida construction contractor brought suit claiming contractor failed to pay wages, including overtime, that they were entitled to receive under FLSA -- Jurisdiction -- District court had subject matter jurisdiction where face of complaint alleged federal claim for unpaid, overtime hours -- Statement of claim that plaintiffs filed under the local practices did not amend that jurisdictional basis out of the complaint -- Plaintiffs' failure to reiterate their unpaid-overtime-hours claim in statement of claim document is not controlling -- Statement of claim document does not have status of a pleading and is not an amendment of complaint under Rule 15 of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
VIEW OPINION

Trademarks -- Infringement -- Online education -- Standing -- Florida Virtual School, a Florida state agency established for development and delivery of online education, appeals from dismissal of its trademark infringement suit against a national online education provider for lack of standing based on conclusion that only Department of State has standing to sue for infringement of plaintiff's trademarks -- Florida Virtual School has authority, and standing, to file action to protect its trademarks
VIEW OPINION

Administrative law -- Social security -- Supplemental security income -- Substantial evidence supported decision of administrative law judge denying application for SSI -- ALJ made clearly articulated credibility finding supported by substantial evidence and pointed to specific reasons for discrediting claimant's subjective complaints of disabling pain -- ALJ was not required to specifically refer to every piece of evidence in his decision where ALJ's decision was not a broad rejection and was sufficient to enable the reviewing courts to conclude that ALJ considered clamant's medical condition as a whole -- Appeals Council was not required to explain its rationale when denying a request for review -- Circuit court decisions cited in support of argument that Appeals Council was required to provide a detailed discussion of the new evidence submitted to it when denying a request for review were not dispositive, as cases arose in different procedural contexts and involved different facts -- Appeals Council accepted claimant's new evidence but denied review because additional evidence failed to establish error in ALJ's decision, and Court is confident that Appeals Council adequately evaluated claimant's new evidence -- Further, additional evidence was either cumulative of evidence before ALJ or was not chronologically relevant, and none of it undermined substantial evidence supporting ALJ's decision
VIEW OPINION

Civil rights -- Due process -- Colleges and universities -- Former tenured university professor brought complaint under 42 U.S.C. section1983 alleging his termination failed to comport with procedural due process -- District court did not err in granting defendants' motion to dismiss on ground that plaintiff could not state a plausible claim for relief under Section 1983 with respect to his procedural due process claim -- Plaintiff was afforded adequate procedural due process prior to revocation of his tenure and termination of his employment where he received prior, written notice of charges against him; was represented by counsel at formal hearing before an unbiased faculty committee; presented argument and evidence on his own behalf, including cross-examination of witnesses against him; had a right to appeal his termination to Board of Regents; and submitted a written appeal to Board of Regents -- Lack of a requirement that plaintiff also receive a hearing before university president, that president review and rely on findings of faculty hearing committee or evidence presented at such hearing before making a final decision, or that plaintiff receive an in-person meeting with Board of Regents prior to his termination did not deprive plaintiff of a meaningful opportunity to be heard -- Jurisdiction -- District court had jurisdiction to consider plaintiff's procedural due process claim because plaintiff's federal action under Section 1983 was not barred by doctrine of res judicata and his procedural due process claim was actionable under Section 1983
VIEW OPINION

Contracts -- Real property sale -- Failure to consummate contract -- Purchaser's contract claims for damages and specific performance based on failure to consummate contract for purchase of residential property are barred by remedies limitation provision of the residential contract -- Remedies limitation provision does not contain an unreasonable disparity in remedy alternatives available to parties and thus does not lack mutuality and is enforceable -- Parties' respective remedies are not unreasonably disparate, as pertaining to the failure to consummate sale of residential property, where remedies provision limits purchasing party's remedies for seller's failure to consummate the sale to return of its deposit and out-of-pocket expenses and seller's sole and exclusive remedy for purchaser's failure to consummate the contract was terminating the contract and retaining the earnest money, thus foregoing option of enforcing contract and seeking actual damages or specific performance
VIEW OPINION

Criminal law -- Habeas corpus -- Murder -- Death penalty -- Counsel -- Ineffectiveness -- Confession -- Voluntariness -- Defendant is not entitled to habeas relief on claim that counsel were ineffective for failing to investigate and present evidence about effect of intoxication on defendant's memory when he sought to suppress his videotaped confession, because state supreme court had reasonable basis for concluding that defendant failed to establish prejudice -- Defendant failed to establish Strickland prejudice, because state court reasonably concluded that additional expert testimony concerning claimed involuntariness of defendant's confession would not likely have led to suppression of the confession -- Sentencing -- Mitigating evidence -- Defendant is not entitled to relief on claim that counsel were ineffective for failing to present all of available evidence concerning his social history as mitigation during penalty phase, because elaborate record presented by defense counsel in mitigation amply establishes that state supreme court did not unreasonably apply Strickland when it denied that claim -- A reasonable state court could have rejected this argument on performance or prejudice grounds -- Exculpatory evidence -- Government's failure to disclose -- Defendant is not entitled to relief on Brady claim that state failed to disclose a report of an interview of an eyewitness concerning witness's brief observation of defendant's intoxication immediately after the killings -- Defendant cannot show prejudice to excuse his procedural default because there is no reasonable probability that witness's testimony would have affected outcome on intoxication defense, particularly in light of substantial body of evidence of intoxication actually presented to jury -- Prosecutorial misconduct -- Defendant is not entitled to relief on claim that he was deprived of fair trial when prosecutor said during cross-examination of defense expert that prison escapes occurred “every day” -- State supreme court's determination that comments were harmless in context was not contrary to or an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court law -- Jury instructions -- Defendant is not entitled to habeas relief on claim that jury was improperly limited in its consideration of mitigating evidence because trial court refused to instruct jurors that mitigating factors need not be found unanimously -- State supreme court's decision on adequacy of instructions was neither contrary to nor an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law, where jurors were expressly told they could impose life imprisonment “for any reason or no reason,” and jury instructions and verdict form contained no statement that reasonably could be read by jurors to require unanimity on mitigating factors
VIEW OPINION

Municipal corporations -- Civil rights violations -- Police officers -- Due process -- Error to grant summary judgment against police officers for failure to invoke 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in their complaint alleging they were fired in violation of their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights, because they brought to light criminal activities of one of city officials -- Federal pleading rules do not countenance dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of legal theory supporting claim asserted -- No heightened pleading rule requires plaintiffs seeking damages for violation of constitutional rights to invoke Section 1983 expressly in order to state a claim -- On remand, plaintiffs should be accorded an opportunity to add to their complaint a citation to Section 1983
VIEW OPINION

Civil rights -- Law enforcement officers -- Search and seizure -- Residence -- Warrant -- Knock and talk exception -- Homeowners sued state police officer under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that officer unlawfully entered their property in violation of Fourth Amendment when officer, upon arriving at plaintiffs' home in response to a report that a suspect might have fled to their home, went into plaintiffs' backyard and onto their deck without a warrant -- Qualified immunity -- Court of Appeals erred in holding that officer was not entitled to qualified immunity, where circuit precedent cited in support of its decision does not clearly establish that officer violated plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights, assuming controlling circuit precedent could constitute clearly established federal law -- Holding that an unsuccessful “knock and talk” at the front door does not automatically allow officer to go onto other parts of property did not answer the question at issue whether a “knock and talk” must begin at the front door when visitors may also go to the back door
VIEW OPINION

Torts -- Maritime law -- Cruise ships -- Negligent medical care -- Vicarious liability -- Agency -- Passenger may invoke principles of actual or apparent agency to impute to a cruise line liability for the medical negligence of its onboard nurse and doctor -- In instant case, allegations in complaint plausibly support holding cruise line vicariously liable for medical negligence of its onboard nurse and doctor under either or both theories -- Respondeat superior -- Court declines to adopt long-standing rule set forth most prominently in Barbetta v. S/s Bermuda Star, which immunizes a shipowner from respondeat superior liability whenever a ship's employees render negligent medical care to its passengers no matter how clear the shipowner's control over its medical staff or how egregious the claimed acts of negligence -- Extensive discussion of Barbetta -- District court improvidently granted rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss claims based on actual agency -- District court also erred in dismissing claim brought under alternative theory of apparent agency -- Passenger may sue shipowner for medical negligence if he can properly plead and prove detrimental, justifiable reliance on apparent agency of ship's medical staff member, and complaint plausibly alleged all of the elements of apparent agency
VIEW OPINION

Employment discrimination -- Handicapped employees -- Foreign national employed on foreign-flagged vessel alleging employer violated Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to renew employee's contract after he was diagnosed with HIV and Kaposi Sarcoma -- District court did not abuse its discretion by denying Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's application for enforcement of administrative subpoenas requesting employer to provide information on all employees worldwide who were discharged or whose contracts were not renewed due to a medical reason after weighing burden to employer and likely irrelevance of information to employee's charge -- District court was justified in considering whether EEOC had jurisdiction over claims of foreign nationals employed on foreign-flagged vessels in weighing potential benefits and hardships of enforcing EEOC's wide-ranging subpoena -- Employer not required to show that compliance would interfere with its normal business operations in order to establish burdensomeness of complying with subpoena
VIEW OPINION

Find out more about FLW Federal.