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Week In Review

Headnotes of selected Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal cases filed the week of
September 9 - September 13, 2019

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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Administrative law -- Medicaid lien -- Confidential settlement -- Reduction of lien -- Pro rata allocation methodology -- Appeal of order finding that Agency for Health Care Administration was entitled to full reimbursement of Medicaid lien from confidential settlement agreement between recipient and third-party tortfeasors despite evidence that settlement represented only a small percentage of the full value of recipient's case -- Administrative law judge erred as a matter of law in concluding that recipient failed to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a lesser portion of recipient's total recovery should be allocated as reimbursement for past medical expenses on the basis that a pro rata formula was speculative and that recipient's case was flawed due to the confidential nature of settlement agreement -- There was no competent, substantial evidence to support ALJ's findings or conclusions where recipient presented expert testimony directed towards the appropriate share of the settlement funds to be allocated as past medical expenses, and agency did not present any evidence to refute experts' opinions
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Constitutional law -- Land Acquisition Trust Fund -- Expenditures -- Trial court erred in entering summary judgment finding that, under the plain meaning of article X, section 28 of the Florida Constitution, funds of the Land Acquisition Trust Fund could only be expended on lands purchased by the state after the effective date of the amendment -- LATF revenue is not restricted to use on land purchased by the state after 2015 -- Fact that LATF specifically authorizes refinancing suggests that property for which the state already owns title is within the purview of permissible LATF activities -- There is no explicit limitation in the text that restoration activities must be on state owned lands -- The plain words “management,” restoration,” and “enhancement” authorize expenditure of LATF funds on activities not expressly concerned with acquisition and improvement per se and, therefore, management of an existing natural resource, which is already owned by the state and which is not in immediate need of improvement, is apparently authorized -- Because trial court's unsupportable reading of the LATF must be overturned, the trial court's declaration that multiple appropriations were unconstitutional must necessarily be overturned as well -- No error in denying motion to disqualify judge where grounds raised in motion pertain to the scope and nature of an adverse ruling -- An adverse ruling is not a legally sufficient ground for disqualification
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Dissolution of marriage -- Equitable distribution -- Marital home -- Marital gift presumption -- Valuation -- Trial court erred in unequally distributing marital home based on former husband's assertion that the down payment on the home was made using funds former husband gratuitously received from his former employer during the marriage as a reward for former husband's services prior to the marriage -- Husband's testimony alone that down payment was made with nonmarital funds was insufficient to overcome marital gift presumption -- Trial court abused its discretion in valuing marital home based on an earlier appraisal rather than an appraisal which was completed closer to trial where record does not reflect that the home's appreciation arose from any source other than market forces
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Taxation -- Ad valorem -- Homestead exemption -- Property appraiser did not err in recording a tax lien on taxpayer's home and revoking his homestead tax exemption after determining that taxpayer had been benefitting from a homestead exemption on his Florida home for approximately five years while simultaneously receiving the benefit of tax exemption in Wisconsin based upon permanent residency in that state -- Circuit court did not err in determining that taxpayers' Florida home is subject to back taxes, penalties, and interest pursuant to section 196.161(1)(b) despite the taxpayers being permanent residents of Florida who did not intend to receive the benefit of the tax exemption based upon permanent residence in another state -- Plain language of section 196.161(1)(b), principles of statutory construction, relevant case law, and legislative history of the statute demonstrate that legislature did not intend to limit the application of section 196.161(1)(b) to only those persons who are not permanent residents of Florida -- To extent that taxpayers argue that the sanction to be imposed upon property of Florida permanent residents who are improperly receiving a Florida homestead exemption while also receiving tax exemption in other states based on permanent residence, section 196.031(5) contains no reference to a sanction
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Taxation -- Ad valorem -- Homestead exemption -- Trial court did not err in entering summary judgment in favor of property appraiser, tax collector, and executive director of Department of Revenue in action brought by property owners challenging denial of a homestead exemption for their residential property -- Property owners are not entitled to homestead tax exemption for tax year 2015 because they failed to maintain the subject property as their permanent residence on January 1, 2015 -- Based on plain and ordinary meaning of operative constitutional provision, taxpayers are not entitled to a homestead exemption because, even though they owned legal title to real estate for which they are claiming an exemption, they did not maintain their permanent residence on property until June 11, 2015, the date they moved onto subject property and first time they physically occupied a house on that property -- Because taxpayers did not use or occupy the property as a home until six months into year for which they were claiming the exemption, they did not manifest an intent to “occupy the premises immediately as a home” and therefore, homestead character did not attach to property -- Because taxpayers do not qualify for homestead exemption, they also are not entitled to a transfer of their homestead portability benefit
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Torts -- Automobile accident -- Damages -- Trial court did not abuse discretion by denying defendants' motion for new trial or remittitur after jury had returned verdict for an amount in excess of $4 million -- Plaintiff's counsel's statements in closing argument that defendant had not admitted running stop sign that caused accident, that defendant's prior testimony was not the truth, that defendant had not previously apologized to plaintiff, and that defendant's conduct was horrible were not grounds for new trial -- Damages award was not excessive -- In awarding future damages, jury was not bound by mortality tables when determining plaintiff's life expectancy
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Torts -- Discovery -- Non-parties -- Trial court did not depart from essential requirements of law in denying defendants' motion for protective order and compelling discovery about financial and professional relationships between defendants' insurer, expert witnesses, and the law firm defending defendants
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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.

No cases selected this week.