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Week In Review

Headnotes of selected Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal cases filed the week of
December 2 - December 6, 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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Dissolution of marriage -- Child custody -- Time-sharing -- Clarification -- Modification -- Trial court erred in entering order on former wife's motion for clarification which amended the final judgment to require former husband to arrange air travel for the parties' children at least sixty days before former husband's time-sharing and made a failure to do so a waiver of former husband's time-sharing rights -- Order constituted an impermissible modification of the final judgment because it conferred a new benefit on former wife while imposing a new and material obligation on former husband without proper pleading or proof of a substantial change in circumstances -- Sixty-day notice provision and its associated obligations constituted more than a mere specification of a time frame and a method or procedure for compliance where original transportation plan did not require parties to do anything but confer regarding airplane tickets and mutually agree prior to booking said tickets
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Dissolution of marriage -- Child custody -- Time-sharing -- Modification -- Time-sharing modified due to former husband's issue with drug addiction -- Trial court abused its discretion by ordering that visitation shall revert back to 50/50 timesharing as outlined in original final judgment automatically after former husband completed Veteran's court, obtained his own residence, and had no vehicle violations for a year -- By enumerating conditions precedent to an automatic future modification of time-sharing, trial court effectively made a prospective determination of what course of action would be in the best interests of the children, which trial court is prohibited from doing
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Family Law Rules of Procedure -- Forms -- Amendment -- Custodial responsibility during deployment -- Adoption of new forms
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Family Law Rules of Procedure -- Forms -- Amendments -- Income deduction order
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Negotiable instruments -- Due-on-demand promissory notes -- Error to enter amended final summary judgment finding individual defendant and limited liability company liable on two promissory notes which had been executed by the individual defendant in his capacity as manager of a separate limited liability company where issues of fact existed regarding parties' intent to hold these two defendants responsible for repayment -- No error in entering summary judgment against third defendant where there was no dispute that individual executed promissory notes in his capacity as manager of this defendant and no dispute that payment demand was made but amounts alleged to be due had not been paid -- Plaintiff provided no authority supporting its proposition that non-signatory LLC could be held liable because it benefitted from loan proceeds and was related to the signing entity -- Fact that signature blocks of notes identified the borrowing entity by its former name not basis for holding individual who signed notes in his representative capacity personally liable -- Mere name change of borrowing LLC had no effect on borrowing entity's identity, and affidavit in which individual attested that it was his intent to sign notes only in a representative capacity was sufficient to preclude summary judgment holding individual personally liable on the notes
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Rules of Civil Procedure -- Amendments
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Standard jury instructions -- Civil -- Amendment -- Issues on Plaintiff's Claim -- Premises liability
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Torts -- Negligence -- Independent contractor -- Safe operation of vehicle -- Nondelegable duty -- Action arising from incident where a tire from one of defendant's trailers, which independent contractor was responsible for inspecting and installing after a fire, detached and collided with a vehicle transporting plaintiff -- Trial court did not err in finding that defendant did not have a nondelegable duty to ensure that its trailer was properly maintained and operated in a safe condition -- Nothing in 49 C.F.R section 396.17 supports contention that a defendant or any other motor carrier who seeks prompt repair work should be held liable for any negligence on the part of an outside repair facility -- “Properly lubricated” requirement of 49 C.F.R. section 396.5 does not impose a nondelegable duty on defendant -- Simply because a motor carrier must ensure that a vehicle is properly lubricated does not equate to that carrier having a nondelegable duty when repairs done to a vehicle by an outside entity are negligently performed -- Likewise, 49 C.F.R. sections 396.25, 396.3, and 396.7 do not impose a nondelegable duty upon motor carriers -- To read federal code provisions as plaintiff does would create a blanket liability for motor carriers whenever an accident occurs because of a faulty repair -- No authority exists which stands for the proposition that the necessity of having repair work done on equipment translates into a nondelegable duty on motor carrier's part with respect to the repair work
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Workers' compensation -- Compensable accidents -- Exposure to toxic substance -- Fungus -- Causation -- Burden of proof -- Order finding that employee's injuries resulted from workplace exposure to toxic fungus is reversed -- Judge of compensation claims erred in applying alternative theory of prolonged exposure to determine that claimant provided sufficient proof of workplace causation rather than the heightened standard of proof for toxic exposure claims under sections 440.02(1) and 440.09(1) -- JCC erred in determining that quantifiable measurement of claimant's exposure was immaterial because both parties' experts were unequivocal that inhalation at any level, even one spore, was sufficient to cause claimant's injury -- The requirements of section 440.02(1) cannot be satisfied with evidence that only minimal exposure to a toxic substance can cause harm and that it is possible the toxic substance was present at the work site -- Expert testimony that claimant “most likely” acquired fungus in the course and scope of employment, without more, was not sufficient to satisfy heightened evidentiary standard of section 440.09(1)
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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 -- Jurors -- Peremptory challenge -- Preservation of objection to challenge -- Defense counsel's request for a standing objection to nonspecific things previously objected to in preliminary proceedings did not renew a specific objection to state's peremptory challenge when the defense had, prior to that request, accepted the jury without reservation
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Criminal law -- Sentencing -- Criminal Punishment Code -- Scoresheet -- Lowest permissible sentence -- Excess of statutory maximum -- Defendant sentenced to lowest permissible sentence for two of defendant's three convictions, which exceeded the statutory maximum for both offenses individually -- When applying the provision of section 921.0024(2) which requires the trial court to impose the lowest permissible sentence if it exceeds the statutory maximum sentence, the lowest permissible sentence must exceed the collective statutory maximum, not each individual statutory maximum, before such exception is triggered -- Because the lowest permissible sentence did not exceed the collective statutory maximum sentence of twenty-five years, the trial court was not required to impose the lowest permissible sentence and sentences should have been capped by their individual statutory maximums -- Consequently, defendant's sentences are illegal because they exceed the statutory maximum in contravention of section 921.0024(2) -- Conflict certified -- Question certified: Is the lowest permissible sentence as defined by and applied in section 921.0024(2), Florida Statutes, an individual minimum sentence and not a collective minimum sentence where there are multiple convictions subject to sentencing on a single scoresheet?
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Criminal law -- Sentencing -- Prison releassee reoffender -- Qualifying offenses -- Offense committed by juvenile -- Defendant's mandatory life sentence as a PRR was not illegal pursuant to Graham v. Florida -- Trial court may consider a prior juvenile offense where defendant was adjudicated as an adult in determining whether a defendant qualifies for a mandatory life sentence under PRR statute -- Defendant's life sentence was a result of crimes committed when he was an adult, and the fact that his juvenile priors qualified defendant for a mandatory life sentence is irrelevant
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