Week In Review

Headnotes of selected Florida Supreme Court and District Courts of Appeal cases filed the week of
May 25, 2020 - May 29, 2020

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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Contracts -- Jurisdiction -- Corporations -- Non-residents -- Product delivery -- Action against foreign corporation which received metal alloys from its customers for sole purpose of treating the alloys at its place of business in California -- Trial court erred by finding personal jurisdiction over defendant under long-arm statute -- Contract between parties did not require defendant to perform acts in Florida -- Where plaintiff owned the alloys and the alloys were returned to plaintiff in crates it furnished and by shipping prepaid by plaintiff, defendant's obligations were complete when it delivered the product to the carrier in California for shipping -- Discussion of shipment/destination contracts -- The mere fact that the contract provides for shipment to Florida is not determinative of jurisdiction because contract term does not mean that contracting party is obligated to deliver the product in Florida -- Alternatively, trial court did not have jurisdiction over defendant due to alleged injury caused within the state arising out of defendant's act or omission outside of state -- Complaint's allegations show that the allegedly defective tempered alloys were not consumed or used in Florida but were discovered by plaintiff's third party customers in foreign countries -- Plaintiff's alleged monetary injury was insufficient for jurisdiction under section 48.193(1)(a)(6) -- Facts alleged in complaint were insufficient to assert jurisdiction over defendant based on substantial activity within the state
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Employer-employee relations -- Whistle-blowers -- Retaliation -- Plaintiff presented prima facie evidence that he objected to or refused to participate in illegal activity, policy, or practice of employer, that he suffered adverse employment action, and that adverse employment action was causally linked to his objection -- Court need not address defendant's request that court recede from prior holding that a plaintiff objecting to his employer's conduct need only have “a good faith, objectively reasonable belief” that employer's activity was illegal -- Defendants failed to raise issue before jury rendered its verdict, failed to request any special instruction or interrogatory on verdict form, and did not object to trial court's instruction on “protected activity,” which followed precise language of statute rather than “reasonable belief” standard
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Estates -- Real property -- Homestead -- Probate court erred in finding that 75% of decedent's residence was not subject to Florida's homestead protection because decedent had rented three out of the four bedrooms in the home -- Homestead exemption granted by article X, section 4, of Florida Constitution protects single-family residence at issue from judgment creditors so that the homestead property passes from decedent to decedent's heirs intact
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Florida Bar -- Rules -- Amendments -- Employment of certain lawyers or former lawyers -- Employment by former subordinates -- Quarterly reports -- Client contact -- Trust funds or property -- Supervising lawyers
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Injunctions -- Cyberstalking -- Social media posts -- Evidence relating to respondent's tweets purportedly referencing petitioner was legally insufficient to support entry of injunction where evidence did not prove that tweets, which were posted on respondent's personal Twitter feed and which did not directly reference petitioner, were nevertheless “directed at” petitioner -- Further, petitioner failed to prove that objectively reasonable person would have suffered substantial emotional distress as result of tweets -- Legitimate purpose -- Trial court applied wrong standard when it concluded that tweets served no legitimate purpose based solely on its earlier finding that the tweets at issue were “directed at” petitioner -- The only evidence on the issue of the purpose of tweets was respondent's testimony that they were a way for him to log prank calls he received and that it was entertaining for him to do so by using twitter -- Petitioner had burden of proving tweets had no legitimate purpose, which he failed to do -- Moreover, mere fact that tweets or other communications are “directed at” an individual does not establish, as a matter of law, that they have no legitimate purpose
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Judges -- Florida Code of Judicial Conduct -- Judge-to-judge solicitation of funds -- Court declines to adopt proposed amendments to Canons Four and Five of Code
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Mortgage foreclosure -- Mortgage recorded by bank clearly and unambiguously described encumbered property by referring to its unique parcel number and its address instead of referring to it as “Lot 1” as the original source deed had -- Further, body of mortgage stated that legal description of property encumbered by mortgage could be found on attached addendum, which addendum described three parcels of land, the first two identified as Lots 22 and 23, and the third identified with the same address and parcel ID number that appeared in body of mortgage -- Trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of defendants who contended they had purchased Lot 1 without notice of mortgage because description of property in mortgage was patently ambiguous
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Municipal corporations -- Petition to recall city commissioner -- City clerk had no discretion to review recall petition for facial or legal sufficiency, but was required by statute to submit petition to county supervisor of elections -- Trial court properly issued writ of mandamus directing clerk to deliver recall petition to supervisor of elections
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Paternity -- Child custody -- Relief from judgment -- Trial court erred in granting mother's motion for relief from judgment of paternity and timesharing schedule where judgment was voidable but not void, motion was not based on fraudulent financial affidavits, and motion was untimely filed more than one year after judgment was entered -- Inconsistencies in judgment do not render judgment void
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Torts -- Medical malpractice -- Presuit requirements -- Claims related to medical care or services -- Appeals -- Certiorari -- Claim arising out of alleged failure to complete a medically necessary transfer of patient as part of a scheme to increase admission rates of medical center for strictly financial reasons -- Trial court departed from essential requirements of the law by denying defendants' motions to dismiss for failure to comply with presuit requirements based on determination that medical negligence standard of care was not implicated -- Claim is one arising out of the rendering of, or failure to render, medical care or services where, although plaintiffs allege that the reason for the improper decision not to transfer patient was economic interest, the damages plaintiffs seek are inescapably linked to alleged failure to provide appropriate medical care
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Torts -- Negligence -- Mental health providers -- Duty -- Action against mental health facility that provided outpatient mental health services to high school shooter alleging that defendant was negligent for failing to prevent shooter from being mainstreamed into public school system and failing to warn of shooter's dangerous propensities -- No error in dismissing complaint as to defendant because defendant violated no legal duty that extended to cover victims in shooting -- A criminal attack on third parties by an outpatient mental health patient is not within the foreseeable zone of risk created by the mental health provider -- Florida law does not recognize a duty of mental health providers to warn third parties that a patient might be dangerous -- Given unpredictable nature of mental health patient's future behavior, mental health providers are not legally tasked with identifying, advising, or warning third parties when a patient has made a general threat to harm others -- Defendant's participation in discussions with school authorities did not give rise to an actionable duty owed to plaintiffs -- Undertaker doctrine does not apply in this case -- Even if defendant played a key role in the decision to mainstream shooter by consulting with school board and making recommendation, that conduct did not give rise to a duty to protect administration, teachers, and students at high school from harm, especially when decision was ultimately up to school board -- There is no special relationship between a student patient's mental health provider and other students who attend school with the patient -- Additionally, public policy reasons weigh against ruling that defendant owed a legal duty to plaintiffs
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Torts -- Premises liability -- Slip and fall on patch of laundry detergent spilled on floor of retail store -- Trial court properly concluded that store did not breach its duty to maintain premises in reasonably safe condition because it did not have sufficient time to do so in the few seconds between spill and plaintiff's fall -- Duty to warn -- Deposition testimony of store manager and another employee filed by plaintiff in response to defendant's motion for summary judgment created disputed issue of material fact as to whether defendant had sufficient opportunity to warn plaintiff of dangerous condition -- Remand for further proceedings on this issue
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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 -- Probation revocation -- Sentencing -- Guidelines -- Non-state prison sanction -- Departure -- Danger to public -- Resentencing required where factual finding that defendant was danger to public was made by judge rather than jury -- Requirement that jury make this finding applies to sentencing after revocation of probation -- Remand for imposition of non-state prison sanction or empanelment of jury to determine whether defendant is danger to public if state seeks that finding
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Criminal law -- Search and seizure -- DNA -- Combined DNA Index System -- CODIS search matching crime scene DNA to defendant's DNA profile which had been lawfully obtained following defendant's prior felony convictions that were later overturned -- No abuse of discretion in denying motion to suppress DNA evidence -- Court rejects argument that DNA match was the “fruit of the poisonous tree” because Florida Department of Law Enforcement was required to remove defendant's DNA from CODIS after receiving certified copy of defendant's acquittal and order to expunge court records pertaining to prior arrest -- Regardless of whether FDLE was obligated to remove defendant's DNA record, any error by FDLE's CODIS unit did not result in a search or seizure violative of the Fourth Amendment because neither the procurement of the DNA sample from the crime scene nor the collection of defendant's DNA during his prior incarceration constituted a search or seizure at all -- Absent evidence of an illegal search or seizure, there is no authority on which to suppress evidence at issue pursuant to the exclusionary rule -- Additionally, record shows that law enforcement in the instant case acted in good faith
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