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Week In Review

Headnotes of selected Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal cases filed the week of
May 13 - May 17, 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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Child support -- Arrearages -- Garnishment -- Trusts -- Spendthrift -- Trial court erred in determining that father had no ability to pay arrearages or his ongoing support obligation based on erroneous conclusion that trial court could not garnish the discretionary payments made for the benefit of the father from a spendthrift trust -- Discretionary disbursements made by the trustee are not protected from continuing garnishment for payment of child support -- A continuing writ of garnishment is appropriate where mother has exhausted traditional methods of enforcement and father's sole available income for payment of support is the trust -- Argument that using trust funds would jeopardize father's eligibility for public assistance under federal law is rejected where there is no federal law or regulation expressly addressing garnishment of special needs trusts to satisfy support obligations, and there is no indication that Congress has expressed any intention to preempt state statutes which permit such garnishments -- Where public policies related to enforceability of spendthrift provisions and the payment of support conflict, public policy favoring enforcement of support orders takes precedence
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Dissolution of marriage -- Alimony -- Trial court did not abuse its discretion by declining to award alimony to wife after finding wife did not have need for alimony and husband did not have ability to pay, and after further finding that wife was precluded from receiving alimony because of her cohabitation with paramour for over a year and the money wife received from him -- Vehicle -- Trial court erred when it required wife to repay husband one-half the cost of vehicle purchased with funds from a joint bank account where marital settlement agreement incorporated into final judgment required husband to pay specified amount monthly for wife's vehicle, and testimony established that husband and wife purchased car with joint money in lieu of that monthly obligation
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Injunction -- Stalking -- Co-workers -- Sexual harrassment -- Respondent's alleged actions of making sexually-oriented comments about petitioner's body and clothing, requesting meetings outside of work, and once looking through petitioner's phone messages while she was out of the office was not enough to produce substantial emotional distress in a reasonable person -- Although alleged behavior can be grounds for employment action, it does not rise to the level of conduct justifying a stalking injunction
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Insurance -- Uninsured motorist -- Passenger in rental car who was injured in an accident involving an uninsured/underinsured motor vehicle was not an “insured person” entitled to UM coverage under driver's insurance policy where rental car did not meet policy's definition of “covered auto” -- Rental car was not a permanent replacement for vehicle insured under driver's policy, and insured driver was not a beneficial owner of the rental vehicle such that rental vehicle fit into policy's definition of an “additional auto”
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Rules of Civil Procedure -- Amendment -- Rejection of proposed amendment to rule 1.220 (Class Actions) regarding distribution of unpaid residual funds awarded in class actions
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Torts -- Defamation -- Punitive damages -- Order granting leave to amend complaint to add claim for punitive damages against hospital corporation based upon allegations that plaintiff was defamed by “director” of hospital's emergency room quashed, as plaintiff did not claim or proffer evidence that either hospital or its corporate management participated in or condoned the alleged defamation
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Workers' compensation -- Attorney's fees -- Allocation -- Quantum meruit -- Jurisdiction -- Case settled after client entered into a contingency agreement with counsel's new firm -- Judge of compensation claims acted within its jurisdictional authority to resolve dispute between former firm and new firm by allocating fees on a quantum meruit basis and not considering the equity partnership agreement between counsel and former firm -- If former firm claims entitlement to any fees awarded by JCC to new firm that derive from counsel's equity partnership agreement, those claims would be within the exclusive subject matter jurisdiction of circuit court -- Competent, substantial evidence supported JCC's allocation of fees
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Workers' compensation -- Evidence -- Disclosure -- Timeliness -- Independent medical examination -- No error in striking claimant's IME report where claimant failed to provide timely notice of claimant's choice of independent medical examiner to all other parties within 15 days of the examination pursuant to section 440.13(5)(a) -- Exclusionary language of statute is mandatory, not directory
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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 -- Double jeopardy -- Violation of stalking injunction -- Single criminal episode -- Defendant convicted of two counts of violating stalking injunction stemming from incident in which defendant yelled at victim across the street from victim's workplace -- Dual convictions based on communicating with victim and being within 500 feet of victim's place of employment did not violate double jeopardy where defendant's two violations were distinct acts separately proscribed by the statute under which he was convicted -- It was not necessary for the two acts to be separated by a temporal break or change in location in order for them to be distinct criminal acts where each act was of a separate character and type, and each was born of a separate impulse
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Criminal law -- Lewd or lascivious battery -- Evidence -- Rape shield statute -- Competency of defendant -- Sentencing -- Rape Shield statute did not apply to proffered evidence of an interview with victim in which the victim accused three other men of sexually battering her without naming defendant where statute plainly states that it only relates to consensual sexual activity with a person other than the accused and proffered evidence related to nonconsensual conduct by other men -- Trial court erred in excluding evidence where evidence was relevant to defendant's defense that victim fabricated allegations after defendant stopped giving her gifts -- Error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt in light of the extensive inculpatory evidence and the entire context of victim's interview -- Trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's motion for a competency proceeding -- Reasonable person could view the recordings of jail phone calls between defendant and his mother as evidence that defendant had a rational and factual understanding of the proceedings where defendant discussed multiple topics, including getting witnesses to testify and write letters on his behalf for sentencing -- Trial court erroneously included penetration points on scoresheet where verdict form did not specify whether union or penetration was found -- Error was harmless where trial court stated it would have imposed the same maximum sentence regardless of the lowest permissible sentence
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