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May 22, 2023 - May 26, 2023
Civil Law Headnotes (Jump to Criminal Law Headnotes)
THESE ARE NOT ALL OF THE CASES RELEASED BY THE COURTS FOR THE WEEK.
Estates -- Attorney's fees -- Offer of judgment -- No error in denying appellants' motion for attorney's fees -- Appellants were not entitled to fees based on appellees' rejection of several offers of judgment where the mother of one of the appellants was the sole offeror -- Appellants lack standing to challenge trial court's denial of mother's fee request where appellants have no stake in mother's offers and do not stand to gain any benefit even if the offers were enforceable -- Although appellant's mother had transferred her entire net worth to the appellants, appellants lack any legally cognizable interest that could be vindicated by finding that mother's offers were made in good faith
Insurance -- Homeowners -- Hurricane damage -- Coverage -- Notice of loss -- Timeliness -- Trial court erred by entering summary judgment in favor of insurer based on determination that insured failed to provide prompt notice of claim where there was disputed evidence regarding whether a reasonable person in insured's position would have concluded that he had a claim under his insurance policy significantly earlier than when insured provided notice to insurer -- While insured was indisputably aware of damage to his roof nearly a year prior to providing notice to insurer, insured denied being aware that the damage was the result of a cause covered by his insurance policy, as opposed to being caused by wear and tear, and there was conflicting evidence regarding whether insured's belief was reasonable
Insurance -- Personal injury protection -- Conditions precedent to suit against insurer -- Examination under oath -- Summary judgment -- Unpled defense -- Trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of insurer based on finding that insured had failed to comply with conditions precedent to filing suit by failing to submit to an EUO where affirmative defense in insurer's answer stated that insured failed to appear for an EUO -- A failure to submit and a failure to appear are not synonymous -- Insurer had the burden of pleading its affirmative defense with enough specificity and particularity to alert plaintiff of what condition was violated and of the proof upon which it intended to rely to prove its affirmative defense -- Insurer was bound by its pleadings in moving for summary judgment
Insurance -- Travel insurance -- Jurisdiction -- Foreign corporations -- Venue -- Forum selection clause -- Action involving dispute over unpaid claims for emergency medical services plaintiff hospital rendered to foreign patients who had purchased travel insurance from defendant corporation that served as managing general agent for defendant insurance company -- Trial court's denial of defendants' motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction is reversed -- Trial court's failure to specifically address the applicability of the long-arm statute alone warrants reversal, as the complete lack of findings on this necessary step of the jurisdictional analysis renders the order finding personal jurisdiction over defendants deficient -- Even assuming plaintiff's allegations are sufficient to bring case within ambit of long-arm statute, record does not support conclusion that defendants purposefully availed themselves of the privilege of conducting activities in Florida where defendants have no offices, employees, or property in Florida, do not issue insurance policies in Florida, and do not advertise to Florida residents -- Although subject insurance policies contained no geographical limitation on coverage and it was foreseeable that insureds might travel to Florida and require treatment, foreseeability alone is not a sufficient benchmark for exercising personal jurisdiction under Due Process Clause -- Fact that plaintiff's affiant was able to access managing agent's website and obtain a quote did not obviate clear foreign residency limitations set forth on the website and in the policy
Torts -- Automobile accident -- Rear-end collision -- New trial -- Trial court erred by granting plaintiff's motion for new trial based on defendant's improper testimony, defendant's expert's violation of order on a motion in limine, and finding that jury's verdict of no liability was against the manifest weight of the evidence -- Record did not support trial court's finding that defendant had improperly testified that plaintiff was at fault and “spike stopped” because he had seen television advertisements run by plaintiff's chosen law firm -- While defendant made a statement concerning plaintiff's chosen law firm, at no time did defendant testify that plaintiff had stopped because he had seen law firm's advertisements -- Trial court is not permitted to grant a motion for new trial based on improper witness testimony when the testimony cited by the trial court did not actually occur -- Order on motion in limine prohibiting defendant's expert from testifying about whether plaintiff was hurt or that significantly higher forces were required to cause plaintiff's alleged injuries was not violated when defendant's expert stated that the test subject in a rear-end collision video, which showed a rear-end collision occurring at a higher speed than the accident at issue, was not injured -- Trial court abused its discretion by finding that the jury's verdict was against the manifest weight of the evidence where the trial court ignored conflicting testimony regarding the cause of plaintiff's injuries and whether defendant was negligent
Criminal Law Headnotes (Jump to Civil Law Headnotes)
THESE ARE NOT ALL OF THE CASES RELEASED BY THE COURTS FOR THE WEEK.
Criminal law -- Aggravated assault with deadly weapon -- Immunity -- Self-defense -- Charges stemming from defendant's act of openly carrying and loading his firearm in the yard of his residence he leased after a verbal altercation with tree cutters who had allegedly made lewd gestures toward members of defendant's family and waived chainsaws at defendant's dogs -- Trial court erred in denying defendant's motion for immunity from prosecution -- Openly carrying or displaying a firearm, and loading it by advancing a bullet in its chamber, does not constitute the unjustified or threatened use of deadly force as a matter of law -- Moreover, defendant had a lawful right to openly carry the firearm while on his home property -- Even if defendant had not been on his home property, it would not have been unlawful for him to briefly and openly display his firearm in anticipation of possibly needing to use it for his and his family's protection during his confrontation with the tree cutters -- Additionally, after defendant had asked tree cutters to leave his property and they refused, tree cutters became trespassers thereby justifying defendant's use of non-deadly force to assist defendant in not only terminating the trespass, but also preventing the reasonably perceived tortious and criminal interference with defendant's dogs -- It was reasonable for defendant to have anticipated the possibility that he would need to act in self-defense while verbally directing trespassers off his property
Criminal law -- Criminal history record -- Expungement -- Human trafficking victim -- Petition to expunge criminal history associated with petitioner's conviction for trafficking in cocaine on ground that petitioner was a minor at the time of the offense and a victim of human trafficking as defined under Florida and federal law -- Trial court abused its discretion by failing to afford petitioner the statutory presumption of human trafficking victim status imposed by section 943.0583 where petitioner presented requisite documentation entitling him to the presumption -- Trial court's determination that petitioner was not credible with respect to whether he was coerced to commit crime is of no moment -- Because petitioner was minor at time of offense, he would qualify as victim of human trafficking regardless of whether he was coerced -- Remand for reconsideration and application of statutory presumption
Criminal law -- Murder -- Death penalty -- Cruel and/or unusual punishment -- Post conviction relief -- Newly discovered evidence -- Timeliness of motion -- No error in summarily denying newly discovered evidence and proportionality claims alleging that defendant's death sentence is unconstitutional because defendant was under age twenty-two at time murder was committed -- Motion which was filed decades after death sentence became final was untimely -- Court rejects argument that newly discovered evidence claim was timely because it was filed within one year of the release of the updated manual on intellectual disability upon which defendant's claim was based -- While updated manual may provide support for defendant's claim that brain development continues beyond age eighteen, the scientific facts underlying those claims have been available well before the updated manual was released
Criminal law -- Sexual misconduct with a patient -- Judgment of acquittal -- Defendant charged with violating section 394.4593(2) based on incident which occurred at treatment facility to which victim had voluntarily admitted herself for substance abuse services -- Trial court erred in denying defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal because victim qualifies as a “patient” within the meaning of the statute -- Discussion of who qualifies as a patient within the meaning of section 394.4593 -- To fit within the statutory definition of “patient,” the victim would have had to be held or accepted for mental health treatment -- Victim in instant case was not “held” where she had admitted herself voluntarily -- Victim had not been accepted for mental health treatment where she did not testify that she sought or received mental health treatment, or that she suffered from any mental health condition which may have been related to her substance abuse disorder