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Week In Review

Headnotes of selected Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal cases filed the week of
October 1 - October 5, 2018

Civil Law Headnotes (Jump to Criminal 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.

Attorney's fees -- Proposal for settlement -- Identical proposals for settlement made to two separate defendants were not ambiguous and were enforceable -- Where each proposal consistently used the singular term “plaintiff” and indicated that each proposal was designed to settle “any and all claims of plaintiff against defendant,” it is clear that plaintiff offered to settle his claims with only the defendant specified in the proposal -- District court erred in finding that the proposals were ambiguous as to whether acceptance of one of the proposals would have resolved the case against both defendants or only against the individual respondent accepting the proposal
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Attorney's fees -- Proposal for settlement -- Joint proposal -- Joint proposal for settlement made to defendants limited liability company and its managing member was invalid where proposal was conditioned on both defendants accepting the proposal, thereby depriving each defendant of ability to independently evaluate offer and accept plaintiff's offer to settle its claims
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Employer-employee relations -- Arbitrable issues -- Racial/ethnic discrimination -- Trial court erred in denying employer's motion to compel arbitration where plain language of the dispute resolution process agreement's delegation clause stated that the arbitrator had sole authority to determine eligibility of a dispute for arbitration -- Because employee did not directly challenge the delegation clause, the court must treat it as valid -- An employer does not waive arbitration by participating in Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proceedings
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Florida Bar -- Unlicensed practice of law -- Florida Supreme Court approves advisory opinion of Standing Committee on Unlicensed Practice of Law, holding that a nonlawyer company is engaged in unlicensed practice of law when it holds itself out as having special knowledge on how to recover excess proceeds from a tax deed sale held by the Clerk of the Court, identifies and contacts owners of excess tax deed sale proceeds for the purpose of offering to recover excess proceeds on their behalf, offers owners a contingency arrangement using a purported assignment modified by an agreement to share the excess proceeds upon recovery, requests from the Clerk of the Court the surplus funds based on the purported assignment, and files pleadings in interpleader actions to recover the funds
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Insurance -- Uninsured motorist -- Identical policies issued by same insurer to mother and daughter who lived in the same household, with mother's policy providing UM coverage of $100,000 per person and daughter's policy providing UM coverage of $25,000 per person -- In action against insurer by daughter to recover for injuries she sustained in accident with uninsured motorist while driving her own vehicle, it was error for trial court to enter summary judgment finding that daughter was entitled to UM coverage equal to the higher limit provided by the mother's policy -- Daughter was not covered under UM provision of mother's policy due to exclusion in mother's policy which provided that “There is no coverage for an insured who sustains bodily injury while occupying a vehicle owned by any resident relative if it is not your car”
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Torts -- Damages -- Noneconomic -- Additur -- Successor judge erred in awarding an additur to jury's award for pain and suffering where conflicting evidence was presented concerning the cause of plaintiff's injuries
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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 -- Manslaughter with firearm -- Stand Your Ground law -- Revision to Stand Your Ground law shifting burden of proof from defendant to state and increasing quantum or standard of proof from preponderance of evidence to proof by clear and convincing evidence was procedural in nature and applies retroactively to pending cases -- Conflict certified -- Defendant entitled to new pretrial immunity hearing to be conducted in accordance with revised statute -- If defendant is not found entitled to immunity from prosecution, he is entitled to new trial because of independent and cumulative effects of various rulings that permitted state to introduce unfairly prejudicial evidence -- Trial court abused its discretion by allowing state to introduce evidence of defendant's refusal to submit to blood draw where defendant was not told that the requested blood draw was compulsory or informed of adverse consequences should he refuse -- Error not harmless when considered with other improperly admitted evidence -- Collateral crimes -- Trial court abused its discretion by permitting state to introduce, over defendant's objection, evidence of defendant's alleged sexual battery of physically helpless victim which was subject of a sexual battery charge against defendant that had been severed for a separate trial -- Evidence was irrelevant to charge at issue and offered to impugn defendant's character -- Trial court abused its discretion by allowing state to introduce evidence suggestive of defendant's drug use in the past, but did not err in allowing evidence suggesting use of illegal drugs at defendant's house during days leading up to shooting -- Trial court abused its discretion when it allowed state to introduce portions of defendant's jail phone calls in which he disparaged prosecutor -- Jury instructions -- Self-defense -- Although, given circumstances of shooting, trial court erred in giving jury instruction which included a duty to retreat if defendant was engaged in an unlawful activity, error was not preserved for review and any error was invited by defense counsel's specific requests
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Criminal law -- Restraining order to prevent harassment of victim -- Jurisdiction -- Trial court properly determined that it lacked jurisdiction to consider state's petition to prohibit harassment where petition was filed in criminal case after death of defendant -- Where defendant died prior to conviction or other determination of guilt, case was abated and trial court's jurisdiction was terminated -- Abatement of criminal case does not preclude circuit court from considering petition filed by state attorney under section 914.24 in a separate action because statute provides an independent basis of jurisdiction for court to enter order protecting crime victim from harassment
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Criminal law -- Sentencing -- Consecutive sentences -- Section 775.087(2)(d) neither mandates nor permits consecutive sentences for crimes committed in a single criminal episode with a single victim or injury in which a firearm was not discharged
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Criminal law -- Severance -- Trial court did not err in denying motion to sever defendant's trial from that of codefendant -- State's presentation of testimony from third parties describing jailhouse statements made by non-testifying codefendant in private conversations with friends from his neighborhood who were also in jail was not prohibited by Sixth Amendment because the codefendant's statements were not testimonial in nature -- Hearsay -- Trial court could properly admit witnesses' testimony about codefendant's statements under hearsay exception for statements against penal interest
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