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Week In Review

Headnotes of selected Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal cases filed the week of
March 18 - March 22, 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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Contempt -- Child custody -- Trial court erred in finding mother in contempt for failing to attempt to arrange pickup of child after initial attempt to transfer child from mother to father at end of time-sharing period failed because of child's refusal to go with father where underlying court order did not direct mother to do so -- No clear error was shown on face of record regarding trial court's finding that mother was in contempt for willfully failing to comply with court domestication order by physically and intentionally preventing father from causing child to board airplane and intentionally preventing father's girlfriend from speaking to, coaxing, and convincing child to willingly board the plane
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Public records -- Exemptions -- Trade secrets -- Action arising out of public records request for all documents sent as part of plaintiff's bid proposal in response to an invitation to negotiate issued by state-established non-profit corporation -- Spreadsheets containing plaintiff's current provider network did not constitute trade secrets as the providers were known to the public through plaintiff's website or were readily accessible by phone request -- Trial court fundamentally misapplied section 812.081(1)(c) in requiring plaintiff to prove information on spreadsheets containing plaintiff's prospective providers was of value as part of its burden of proof -- The information was deemed protected trade secrets once plaintiff had met its burden of proving that the spreadsheets were used in the operation of its business, that the information provided an advantage or the opportunity for advantage, and that plaintiff had taken measures to prevent its disclosure -- By their very nature, trade secrets are considered to be of value as a matter of law -- Trial court erred in finding that geoaccess maps showing where plaintiff's current providers were concentrated were not subject to trade secret protection based on conclusion that the information was public, and public information can never be considered protected trade secrets -- The time and effort spent compiling, and the unique presentation thereof, may render public information a trade secret -- Plaintiff's maps constituted trade secrets where plaintiff invested significant time, resources, and capital in generating the maps which included labor intensive market research necessary to assemble a proffered client network and the forethought to create a visually appealing compilation and arrangement of the material itself
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Torts -- Attorney's fees -- Conditional continuance -- Appeal of final money judgment entered against plaintiffs for attorney's fees and costs incurred as a result of a continuance requested by the plaintiffs' new counsel after trial court had permitted previous counsel to withdraw a week before trial, and which was conditioned on new plaintiffs' agreement that plaintiffs would be responsible for defendants' costs associated with the delay -- Discussion of history and support for recognition of conditional continuances -- Whether such a conditional continuance was within ambit of trial court's power is not an argument plaintiffs can make where plaintiffs represented that they would agree to pay a measure of defendant's costs and received the ruling they asked for -- Plaintiffs may not argue against the amount of fees in judgment because they failed to provide a transcript of the evidentiary hearings in which trial court determined judgment amount -- Award of fees as a money judgment was an error of law where there was no stated legal basis for its entry and no underlying claim or counterclaim or court sanction from which it sprung -- At most, what plaintiffs acquiesced to was the entry of an order, which is markedly different from an executable final judgment -- Final judgment reversed
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Torts -- Automobile accident -- Argument -- Where defendant had obtained orders in limine prohibiting reference to traffic citation and contents of accident report, it was error to permit argument which improperly suggested that investigating trooper did not issue a citation to defendant -- Error was not shown by defendant to be harmless -- New trial required
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Torts -- Legal malpractice -- Standing -- Insurance carrier -- Question certified: Whether an insurer has standing to maintain a malpractice action against counsel hired to represent the insured where the insurer has a duty to defend
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Workers' compensation -- Medical benefits -- Causation -- Break in causal chain -- Exposure -- Action arising out of employer/carrier's termination of medical treatment fifteen years after parties had entered into a broad stipulation in which the employer/carrier accepted compensability of work exposure to contaminants which caused breathing problems in employees of the building, and accepted liability for “building related illness associated with indoor air quality problems” -- Judge of compensation claims' denial of employee's claims for medical care and costs was not supported by competent substantial evidence where, although physician who conducted employer/carrier's independent medical evaluation testified that employee had been misdiagnosed, IME physician declined to testify that “building related illness” was not the major contributing cause of employee's need for ongoing treatment, and no evidence was introduced by employer/carrier that employee's symptoms changed since the date of the joint stipulation or that unrelated conditions or symptoms had arisen since exposure was accepted as compensable
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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 -- Discovery -- Medical records -- Investigative subpoenas -- Circuit court departed from essential requirements of law by denying objection to state's subpoena of defendant's toxicology records for purposes of criminal prosecution of defendant, who was charged with leaving scene of accident and carelessly or negligently causing serious bodily injury while driving on canceled, suspended, or revoked license, where state failed to prove that records were relevant to case against defendant -- Although relevance for impeachment purpose may be a sufficient basis to access medical records protected by article 1, section 23, of the Florida Constitution, state presented no evidence making it reasonable to believe that the toxicology records would turn up evidence that defendant was under influence of drugs or alcohol when crash that gave rise to charges occurred -- Impairment of defendant's legally-recognized privacy interest is immediate injury that cannot be remedied on appeal
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Criminal law -- Search and seizure -- Cell phone -- Probationary search -- Trial court did not err in denying motion to suppress cell phone data obtained from forensic download conducted by probation officer, although officer did not have warrant to search electronic devices or reasonable suspicion to believe defendant had violated his probation or otherwise committed a crime and express conditions of probation order did not expressly authorize search of cell phone data -- Government's interest in supervising defendant while he was on probation for sex offenses against child outweighed defendant's heightened privacy interest in his cell phone data -- Question certified: Does the search of a probationer's cell phone data by a probation officer violate the Fourth Amendment where there was no individualized suspicion for the search and the probationary search conditions, although broad, did not expressly authorize a search of cell phone data, but the probationer is a sex offender, his underlying offenses are for sexual abuse of a minor, and the results of the search are only used in violation of probation proceedings
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