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Week In Review

Headnotes of selected Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal cases filed the week of
July 17 - July 21, 2017

Civil Law Headnotes (Jump to Criminal Law Headnotes)

THESE ARE NOT ALL OF THE CASES RELEASED BY THE COURTS FOR THE WEEK.
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Arbitration -- Vacation of award -- Partiality of arbitrator -- Conflict of interest -- Trial court did not err in denying motion to vacate arbitration award based on business connection between one of the parties and arbitrator's husband's corporate employer where no actual bias was shown by arbitrator -- Moreover, there was no actual conflict, as arbitrator did not know of business relationship between her husband's corporate employer and party -- No error in denying claim that arbitrators exceeded their powers under arbitration agreement by failing to apply controlling Florida law in denying any damage award -- As found by trial court, this was attempt to disguise claim of legal error by arbitration panel, which is not ground for vacating arbitration award
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Contempt -- Speech -- Portion of civil contempt order for violating settlement agreement which prohibited posting on any website, blog, or social media constituted an unconstitutional restraint on protected speech
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Contracts -- Subcontracts -- Roofing subcontractor's breach of contract action against general contractor -- Retroactive application of subcontract -- Where general contractor signed subcontractor's proposal before roofing work began, but subcontract was not actually signed until project was nearly complete, subcontract applied retroactively because subcontract contained merger clause -- Fact that subcontract applies retroactively does not mean that subcontractor is barred from receiving payment by conditions precedent to progress payments and final payment in subcontract -- Contractor's answer to complaint failed to preserve its right to demand proof that subcontractor complied with conditions precedent where answer and affirmative defense did not specify which conditions precedent subcontractor failed to comply with or how subcontractor failed to comply with them -- Trial court erred in failing to award prejudgment interest on liquidated damages
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Dependent children -- Termination of parental rights -- Child who was sheltered due to psychotic episode involving mother -- Failure of parent to take necessary medications and otherwise comply with case plan -- Due process -- Trial court did not err in allowing termination of parental rights to proceed at a time when mother had been declared incompetent in an unrelated proceeding -- While criminal defendant must be competent, same is not necessarily true in termination proceedings, which involve not only parents' rights but also child's rights -- Risk of error in holding termination trial while parent is incompetent is diminished by fact that parent is entitled to assistance from counsel and state must prove grounds for termination by clear and convincing evidence -- Government's interest in providing child with permanent home favors conducting termination proceeding expeditiously to avoid further harm to child
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Interest -- Prejudgment -- Due process -- Plaintifffs' timely motion to amend or correct final judgment to include prejudgment interest preserved trial court's jurisdiction to award it -- No due process violation resulted from failure to conduct hearing to determine asserted dates of loss where motion to amend identified specific trial exhibits that established those dates and defendants did not challenge those dates despite opportunities to do so -- Equitable reduction -- With regard to claim that trial court should have excluded from prejudgment-interest calculus the interim between rendition of original judgment and rendition of final judgment after remand by appellate court, it is unclear whether trial court understood that it had discretion to reduce awards of prejudgment interest based on equitable considerations -- Remand for consideration of whether defendants have set forth equitable basis for reducing awards -- Appeals -- Timeliness -- Where only prejudgment interest was added in amended judgment, appeal from that judgment did not reach back to original judgment, but perfeced appeal only from the award of prejudgment interest -- Likewise, motion for rehearing of amended final judgment did not reach back to matters adjudicated in original final judgment
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Mortgage foreclosure -- Relief from judgment -- Non-parties -- Appeals -- Party who purchased mortgaged property after lis pendens had been filed in foreclosure action and whose motion for leave to intervene in foreclosure action was initially granted, but subsequently vacated, had no standing to seek relief from foreclosure judgment -- Party who purchased property after lis pendens was filed had no rights in the property at the time the litigation commenced, and he purchased the property subject to and bound by any judgment rendered in the foreclosure action -- Party lacks standing to appeal trial court's denial of his rule 1.540(b) motion to vacate foreclosure judgment
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Wrongful death -- Action based on incident in which severely intoxicated driver's car swerved from roadway, traveled across sidewalk and through bushes, and collided with hotel's pool cabana with enough force to cause collapse of cabana's steel-reinforced concrete columns and death of hotel guest who was in cabana -- Trial court erred in denying hotel's motion for directed verdict on issue of negligence -- Duty of care -- Evidence that hotel was aware of roadway's slight curve and that some speeding occurred on the road was legally insufficient to establish that hotel knew or should have known that dangerous condition existed on its own premises -- Even if, due to placement of cabana, dangerous condition existed on hotel's premises of which it knew or should have known, thereby creating affirmative duty to protect users of pool cabana from these dangers, hotel did not breach that duty -- Proximate cause -- Finally, even if hotel breached duty of care, death was unequivocally attributable only to “an improbable freak” accident
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Wrongful death -- Trial court departed from essential requirements of law by denying personal representative's motion to consolidate two wrongful death cases which were based on successive injury-producing incidents involving decedent where denial of motion to consolidate could cause repugnant and inconsistent verdicts, resulting in material injury that could not be remedied on appeal
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Criminal Law Headnotes (Jump to Civil Law Headnotes)

THESE ARE NOT ALL OF THE CASES RELEASED BY THE COURTS FOR THE WEEK.
To see others not presented here, log in for more comprehensive weekly listings.

Criminal law -- Search and seizure -- Affidavit for search warrant -- Trial court properly denied motion to suppress, finding with the support of competent substantial evidence that, in omissions and misstatements in affidavit for search warrant, there was no intentional or reckless conduct on the part of the detective and that the omissions, if added to the affidavit, would not have defeated probable cause -- Evidence -- Other crimes, wrongs or acts -- Trial court abused its discretion in admitting uncharged images of child pornography found on computer seized during search, improperly finding the images to be inextricably intertwined evidence -- Uncharged images, which do not assist in “describing the deeds” charged, provide an intelligent account of the charged crimes or establish the entire context out of which the crimes arose, or describe events leading up to the charged crimes, do not satisfy reasons for admitting inextricably intertwined evidence -- Error was harmless with regard to convictions for soliciting a child for unlawful sexual conduct using computer services or devices and transmission of child pornography -- Error was not harmless with regard to convictions for possession of child pornography -- Remand for new trial on latter charges
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