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Week In Review

Headnotes of selected Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal cases filed the week of
April 12, 2021 - April 16, 2021

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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Firearms -- Regulations -- State preemption -- Violations by local governments and officials -- Penalties -- Immunity -- Statutory penalties contained in sections 790.33 and 790.335, which can be imposed against governmental entities and individual officials that violate the legislature's total preemption of firearm and ammunition regulation, are valid and enforceable -- Governmental function immunity does not shield entities that act contrary to or more restrictively than state law in the completely preempted field of firearm and ammunition regulation -- Separation of powers doctrine does not defeat validly enacted general law, and does not enable state subdivisions or agencies or their officials to violate state preemption with impunity -- Separation of powers doctrine protects only lawful and authorized planning-level activity, and the actions penalized in challenged statutes are, by definition, violations of statutes -- Legislature is authorized to prescribe penalties for violations of state preemption, and the judicial branch must enforce them -- Court rejects argument that local government officials have legislative immunity because such immunity was handed down to them when state legislature delegated part of its legislative authority to local governments -- No immunity can exist for local or agency enactment of provisions in violation of state preemption and thus beyond the scope of state-delegated authority -- Constitutional origins of local governing bodies do not confer legislative immunity on local legislators
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Partnerships -- Transfer of interests -- Wills -- No error in determining that deceased partner's attempted devise of partnership interest to decedent's grandson was contrary to the terms of a controlling partnership agreement requiring partners to execute wills vesting their partnership interests in their spouses or children -- While grandson is a lineal descendant of decedent, he is not her “child” and thus was outside the class of people who could receive the interest under the plain language of the agreement -- Dissolution of partnership was not required where agreement stated that dissolution would only be required when a partnership interest ultimately passes to someone who is not a “spouse or lineal descendant” of decedent, which did not occur here -- Where contracting parties expressly agree on the disposition of property upon death, that agreement generally controls over a testamentary disposition of the property
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Taxation -- Sales tax -- Class action against merchant seeking injunction under Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act to enjoin practice of collecting sales tax on full price of sales rather than on discounted price with discounts funded in part by merchant and in part by manufacturer -- Taxpayer does not have a cause of action against merchant for an injunction against an unfair trade practice -- Where merchant has collected and remitted sales taxes to state in good faith reliance on tax laws without any improper attempt to obtain a competitive advantage, taxpayer must seek its remedy against the state and leave merchant out of middle of tax dispute -- It was error to certify class for purposes of obtaining unavailable remedy
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Torts -- Arbitration -- Enforceability of arbitration agreement -- Agency -- Negligence action brought by mother on behalf of minor child who was injured at defendant's indoor amusement park after being brought there by mother's adult friend who signed defendant's customer release agreement -- Trial court did not err in denying defendant's motion to compel arbitration based on conclusion that no valid written agreement existed because mother's friend lacked legal authority to execute release on behalf of child or his parents -- Resolution of contract formation rests with the trial court, not the arbitrator -- Because the arbitration agreement that defendant sought to enforce was not signed by the person against whom defendant sought enforcement, the arbitration agreement could not bind the mother or her son unless defendant demonstrated that mother's friend had authority to do so -- Mother's friend did not have apparent agency to sign the document where the mother, the purported principal, did not represent anything to defendant to induce its supposed reliance on friend's authority -- Although friend, by signing the agreement, warranted and represented that she had mother's actual or implied authority to execute the agreement, an agent cannot establish her own agency -- Apparent agency is conferred based upon the principal's actions or statements -- Defendant failed to preserve claim that prior releases signed by mother and another adult on behalf of child supported its argument that friend was mother's apparent agent -- Delegation provision of agreement which required an arbitrator to determine the enforceability of the agreement cannot bind a party who did not agree to the contract in which delegation provision is contained -- Arbitration provision is not severable from the release
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Torts -- Defamation -- Trial court properly dismissed with prejudice complaint by a pastor, a public figure, against media group alleging defamation and defamation by implication arising from reports on business dealings between plaintiff and members of public where complaint failed to allege any false statements that would affect the gist of the reports, actual malice, or a defamatory implication -- Florida recognizes the substantial truth doctrine, under which a statement does not have to be perfectly accurate if the gist of the statement is true -- Complaint did not plead facts sufficient to give rise to a reasonable inference of actual malice -- Failure to investigate, standing on its own, does not indicate the presence of actual malice -- There must be some showing that defendant purposely avoided further investigation with intent to avoid the truth -- Claim of defamation by implication was properly dismissed where defendant did not impermissibly juxtapose a series of facts so as to create a defamatory implication -- Trial court did not abuse discretion by dismissing complaint with prejudice and refusing to allow plaintiff to file fourth amended complaint
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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.
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Criminal law -- Evidence -- Statements of defendant -- Detective's failure to honor defendant's right to silence in a police station interview did not carry over to statements made during a subsequent interview, which was voluntarily initiated by the defendant, after defendant was arrested and received Miranda warnings and after a significant passage of time and break in custody
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Criminal law -- Immunity -- Stand Your Ground law -- Burden of proof -- Remand for new Stand Your Ground hearing applying proper burden of proof is not necessary in instant case where record demonstrates that there is no reasonable possibility that trial court's ruling at SYG hearing contributed to defendant's conviction -- Conflict certified -- Because at trial state was required to overcome defendant's claim of self-defense by meeting the “beyond a reasonable doubt” burden of proof, which is a higher burden than the clear and convincing evidence standard the state was required to satisfy at the pretrial hearing, any error by trial court with regard to burden of proof at SYG hearing was cured by a subsequent jury verdict finding defendant guilty -- Defense theory and evidence adduced at trial in support of that theory were the same as theory and evidence presented at SYG hearing, and nothing in record suggests that defendant's ability to mount a defense or present evidence in support of his self-defense claim at trial was in any way frustrated or limited by trial court's ruling at SYG hearing -- Further, defendant moved for judgment of acquittal based on claim that state did not adequately rebut his defense, and that motion was denied; and jury was correctly instructed on self-defense claim and state's burden to prove defendant's guilt beyond reasonable doubt
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