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Week In Review

Headnotes of selected Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal cases filed the week of
January 19, 2015 - January 23, 2015

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 -- Alimony -- Appeals -- Timeliness -- Husband's appeal of award of durational alimony to wife was not timely where notice of appeal was filed more than 30 days after rendition of order -- Time for filing notice of appeal commenced on date of original judgment, not date of subsequent amended judgment, where amendment of judgment was solely to correct scrivener's error in date and did not effect substantive change
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Dissolution of marriage -- Alimony -- Child support -- Income -- Imputed income -- Where wife was voluntarily unemployed, it was error to delay the imputation of income to her for six months on basis that wife's underemployment was due to her status as a pro se litigant in her own divorce proceeding
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Dissolution of marriage -- Child custody -- Modification -- Competent, substantial evidence supported provision of amended supplemental final judgment giving father primary residential custody of parties' daughter -- Trial court abused its discretion in sua sponte awarding father sole parental responsibility and sole decision-making authority where issues of change in parental responsibility and decision-making responsibility were not raised in pleadings or tried by consent -- Language restriction -- Although there may have been some legal justification for limiting Spanish-speaking mother to English when non-Spanish-speaking father was supervising her time-sharing under prior emergency ex parte order, trial court lacked authority to make this restriction permanent where father did not ask for this restriction to be made permanent in his amended supplemental complaint for modification, issue was not tried by consent, and there was no evidentiary basis for permanent restriction -- Time-sharing -- Trial court abused its discretion by reducing time-sharing with child, delegating scheduling of time-sharing to time-sharing supervisor, ordering mother to pay cost of supervisor, and failing to set forth steps that mother must take to regain time-sharing awarded her in original final judgment
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Dissolution of marriage -- Income -- Imputed income -- Trial court abused discretion in amount of income it imputed to wife where there was no competent, substantial evidence of local job market, work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing earnings level in community -- Equitable distribution -- In distributing parties' credit card and loan debt equally, court improperly failed to delineate how each party would be responsible
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Civil rights -- Employment -- Racial discrimination -- Limitation of actions -- Plaintiff who alleged that race was factor in Department of Corrections' decision to accuse him of misconduct in his official capacity as assistant warden of state prison failed to timely exhaust administrative remedies before he filed suit, as required by Florida Civil Rights Act, where he did not file administrative complaint within 365 days of termination from employment -- Tolling -- Limitations period was not equitably tolled during time period when Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission was investigating DOC's charges against plaintiff where there was no allegation that plaintiff was misled or lulled into inaction by DOC or that plaintiff timely asserted his rights mistakenly in the wrong forum -- Merely alleging possibility that right of self-incrimination would have been violated had plaintiff filed a timely administrative complaint did not establish equitable circumstance that prevented timely filing of administrative complaint -- Equitable estoppel -- Complaint failed to assert cognizable claim for equitable estoppel where there was no allegation that DOC engaged in any active deception or misconduct that prevented plaintiff from timely filing administrative complaint
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Constitutional law -- Separation of powers -- Teacher evaluation -- Student Success Act, which revised requirements for evaluation of classroom teachers and other personnel, requiring that at least fifty percent of a teacher's evaluation must be based on student learning growth, confers permissible discretion to allow Board of Education to implement a highly technical matter regarding the evaluation of teachers, not a fundamental policy decision -- Statute does not grant Board of Education unbridled discretion to enact fundamental policy choices, and does not constitute an invalid delegation of legislative powers to the executive branch
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Contracts -- Torts -- Damages -- Loss of use -- Action against firm that designed plaintiff's newly constructed home which had defective air conditioning system that had to be redesigned and replaced -- Trial court erred in denying loss of use damages for twenty-month period during which plaintiff could not move into home while the air conditioning system was being replaced -- Testimony of expert regarding the rental value of the home during the repair period was sufficient to constitute prima facie case for value of lost use of home during period -- It was error to deny loss of use damages because of fact that expert did not consider homeowner's limited use of home during repair period to adjust damage calculation
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Costs -- Appellate -- Prevailing party -- Court registry fee charged by clerk of circuit court qualifies as a taxable cost under Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.400(a)(4) -- Court registry fee qualifies as “other costs permitted by law” under this rule because depositing the cash with the clerk is one option to post a good and sufficient bond specifically provided by rule 9.130(c)(1) and fee amount set by Legislature is reasonable expense paid by a party to furnish security under section 57.071(1)(a)
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Dissolution of marriage -- Child support -- Arrearage -- Interest -- Trial court abused discretion by denying mother's exception to general magistrate's recommendation that she was not entitled to interest on child support payments in arrears -- Mother was entitled to prejudgment interest in accordance with prior order
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Estates -- Trusts -- Attorney's fees -- Trial court erred in denying trustee's motion for attorney's fees after trustee prevailed on trust beneficiary's petition to revoke trust amendment on basis that trustee did not adequately plead entitlement to attorney's fees -- By entering into pretrial stipulation which included among the issues for determination at trial the issue of whether any party is entitled to the recovery of attorney's fees and costs, beneficiary waived any objection to trustee's failure to plead claim for attorney's fees
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Insurance -- Accidental death -- Exclusions -- Alcohol -- Coverage was excluded under alcohol exclusion for death of insured who was killed while operating a jet ski while having a blood alcohol level in excess of the legal limit where the alcohol contributed to the accident -- In order for alcohol exclusion to bar recovery under policy, it is necessary to show that there was some causal relationship between insured's intoxication and his death, but it is not necessary to show that insured's intoxication was the sole cause of the accident
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Insurance -- Homeowners -- Sinkhole claim -- Rescission of policy -- Misrepresentation of condition of home on applications for coverage -- Error to enter summary judgment in favor of insurer based on insureds' negative answer to question whether they had knowledge of any prior repairs made to any structures on insured location for cracking damage where insurer failed to establish beyond factual dispute that the answer to the question in the application was incorrect or a misrepresentation and further failed to establish that the representation was material to the acceptance of insurer's risk or that true facts would have caused it not to issue policies
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Mortgage foreclosure -- Limitation of actions -- Trial court erred in dismissing foreclosure action against owners of condominium units on basis of statute of limitations defense where unit owners took title to units subject to prior recorded mortgage which contained a provision waiving the statute of limitations as a defense to a foreclosure action -- Statute of repose -- Where mortgage secured a loan agreement, and the maturity date of the loan agreement was not ascertainable from the face of the recorded mortgage, the twenty-year statute of repose was applicable -- Trial court erred in dismissing foreclosure complaint on basis of statute of repose where foreclosure complaint was filed before expiration of twenty-year period
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Paternity -- Sperm donor -- No error in dismissing with prejudice sperm donor's amended petition to determine paternity because, even if the donor was correct that there was no valid written contract between parties limiting donor's ability to assert parental rights, section 742.14 precludes him from asserting such rights -- Attorney's fees -- Trial court erred in awarding attorney's fees to mother pursuant to section 57.105 based on finding that donor knew or should have known that his petition and amended petition were insufficient on facts and law where sperm donor was attempting in good faith to advance novel question of law
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Public records -- Criminal discovery records -- Recorded phone conversations engaged in by criminal defendant while incarcerated and awaiting trial -- Delay in producing recorded phone conversations while reviewing recordings to redact exempt or confidential information -- State attorney's office policy of payment of a deposit prior to redaction and delivery of public records is facially reasonable -- State attorney's office does not have legal duty to combine its review of discovery for trial purposes with public records request -- Question certified: Does a custodian of criminal discovery have a legal obligation to, where possible, combine its review of discovery for trial purposes with a public records request if doing so will be economically efficient and result in less delay?
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Torts -- Nursing homes -- Violation of resident's rights -- Arbitration -- Nursing home failed to meet burden of showing the existence of valid and binding written agreement to arbitrate where, in response to request for complete copy of set of documents signed by resident upon her admission, nursing home provided only signature page of what was alleged to be a seven-page arbitration agreement -- Trial court erred in granting motion to compel
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Unclaimed property -- Party who has obtained judgment against former spouse for unpaid child support and marital proceeds is entitled to funds of former spouse held by Bureau of Unclaimed Property of Department of Financial Services -- Sovereign immunity is not available for Department to continue to hold former spouse's property in its custody -- Garnishment -- Garnishment statute's waiver of sovereign immunity as to garnishment of wages does not extend to unclaimed property
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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 -- Juveniles -- Resisting arrest without violence -- Dismissal -- Denial of motion for judgment of dismissal was improper because juvenile's cursing and shouting in crowd of youths was insufficient to constitute disorderly conduct, officer thus did not have reasonable suspicion that juvenile was committing the offense of disorderly conduct, and hence, in detaining juvenile who was trying to walk away, officer was not engaged in the lawful execution of a legal duty
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Criminal law -- Leaving scene of accident causing death -- Evidence -- Statements of defendant -- Defendant was seized for Fourth Amendment purposes when he was handcuffed, placed in back of officer's car, taken to police station, and placed in locked interrogation room, but seizure of defendant was supported by probable cause -- Where officer determined that pickup truck parked in front of auto body shop was vehicle that had been involved in accident, and officer learned from owner of shop that defendant owned the truck and that defendant had been in possession of truck when it was damaged, there was probable cause for arrest of defendant -- Trial court properly denied motion to suppress statements made by defendant during interrogation at police station after he had waived Miranda rights -- Opinion testimony -- There was no error in admitting testimony of detective regarding whether defendant knew or should have known that he had struck a person where detective testified as an accident reconstruction expert -- Any error in admission of opinion testimony of another detective was not fundamental
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Criminal law -- Leaving scene of crash involving death -- Jury instructions -- Where fact that defendant had knowledge that there had been a crash was not in dispute, trial court did not err in giving standard jury instruction which required state to prove only that defendant knew or should have known she was involved in a crash, rather than requested special jury instruction which would require state to prove beyond reasonable doubt that defendant had actual knowledge of the crash -- Trial court did not follow proper procedure in imposing fine pursuant to section 775.083, Florida Statutes, and surcharge on that fine
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Criminal law -- Newly discovered evidence -- New trial -- Claim that trial court erred in denying motion for new trial based on newly discovered evidence consisting of letter received by defendant from co-perpetrator of robbery after co-perpetrator's trial stating that defendant drove his car to and from gas station which was robbed, but did not participate in robbery and did not know about it in advance -- Trial court erred by concluding that evidence does not give rise to reasonable doubt about defendant's culpability -- Remand for trial court to make factual finding as to whether evidence was newly discovered -- If trial court finds that evidence was newly discovered, defendant is entitled to new trial
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