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February 19, 2024 - February 23, 2024
Civil Law Headnotes (Jump to Criminal Law Headnotes)
THESE ARE NOT ALL OF THE CASES RELEASED BY THE COURTS FOR THE WEEK.
Arbitration -- Confirmation of award -- Appeals -- Trial court properly denied, as legally insufficient, party's timely-filed motion to vacate arbitration award where allegations of motion were in conclusory form without supporting facts demonstrating the applicability of any of the grounds for vacating an arbitration award enumerated in section 682.13(1) -- Trial court was not required to provide opportunity to amend motion -- Once motion to vacate was denied, there being no other motion to vacate, modify or correct the award before the court, the trial court had no discretion but to confirm the award as rendered
Civil procedure -- Default -- Vacation -- Relief from judgment -- Service of process -- Trial court properly denied motion to quash service of process where parties did not dispute that returns of service were regular on their face and defendant presented no other evidence to corroborate his claim that he was not served -- Trial court erred in granting motion to vacate default and default final judgment after finding that defendant established excusable neglect -- Excusable neglect claim relied solely on defendant's claim of lack of service, which was lacking in sufficient proof -- Further, trial court found that the defendant failed to establish meritorious defense, which should also have been fatal to rule 1.540(b)(1) motion to vacate
Consumer law -- Private clubs -- Motor fuel pricing -- Motor Fuel Marketing Practices Act -- Action alleging that membership-only wholesale club was violating the MFMPA by selling gas below cost to its club members -- No error in granting summary judgment in favor of defendant based on determination that defendant did not qualify as a “retail outlet” under MFMPA because it did not sell fuel to “motoring public” -- Plain and ordinary meaning of term “motoring public” as used in MFMPA refers to the population of drivers as a whole rather than any individual driver -- Defendant is not a “retail outlet” because defendant only sells fuel to its members rather than all motorists -- Even if the definition of “motoring public” is ambiguous, the interpretation of “the motoring public” as referencing the general public and not a limited subset is supported by legislative history and canons of statutory construction -- Court rejects argument that failing to include membership gas clubs within terms of MFMPA is contrary to specific legislative intent to encourage competition -- Defendant's advertisements to the general public do not violate MFMPA where, although defendant's fuel themed advertisements are not limited to its members, all the advertisements are clear that only defendant's members may purchase motor fuel at defendant's establishment
Contracts -- Unjust enrichment -- Unpaid wages -- Attorney's fees -- Prevailing party -- Complaint seeking money damages under unjust enrichment theory alleging that law firm had hired attorney to help resolve certain types of cases and failed to pay her for her work -- Trial court erred in awarding attorney's fees to plaintiff and her co-counsel under section 448.08 without first determining whether plaintiff had been defendant's employee -- Although defendant's acceptance of plaintiff's proposal for settlement supports conclusion that plaintiff was prevailing party on unjust enrichment claims, it cannot be interpreted as a concession that plaintiff was an employee where her technical employment status was not relevant to any of the claims -- Remand for trial court to determine plaintiff's employment status -- If trial court finds that plaintiff was an employee, trial court may not simply reinstate its fee award as it was not supported by the testimony of the attorney and an expert -- Plaintiff should be given opportunity to provide further evidence supporting amounts claimed where record was not completely devoid of evidence supporting attorney's fees
Family Law Rules of Procedure -- Forms -- Amendment -- Notice of related cases -- Cover sheet for family court cases -- Support for dependent adult children
Insurance -- Homeowners -- Coverage -- Inconsistent verdict -- Action alleging that insurer had breached insurance contract by failing to cover damages to insured's dock -- Trial court erred in entering judgment in favor of insured where, despite entering an amount for the actual cash value of the dock on the verdict form, jury found that insurer had established that the loss was not covered by the policy -- Jury's verdict was not legally inconsistent where question on verdict form asking jury the cost to repair dock at actual cash value presented a limited inquiry directed to a factual matter and did not, on its face, assign liability to insurer for the cost of repair or ask jury to determine amount of damages owed to insured
Municipal corporations -- Condominiums -- Liens -- Code enforcement lien -- Scope -- Tax deed sale -- Surplus -- Interpleader -- Interpleader action filed by city clerk requesting determination as to how surplus funds from tax deed sale of single condominium unit should be distributed -- Trial court erred in holding that city was entitled to a portion of surplus because city's code enforcement lien against the condominium's common elements was a lien “against the property” under section 197.582(2)(a) -- Interpreting the meaning of “against the property” to mean that a lien against common elements of a condominium is also a lien against all of condominium's property and the individual condominium units creates a conflict with section 718.121(1), which prohibits liens against a condominium as a whole without the unanimous consent of the condominium unit owners -- Section 718.121(1) applies to all types of liens, including code enforcement liens -- Because there was no unanimous consent among unit owners in condominium, scope of lien proposed by city would violate statute -- Statute does not permit a condominium association to consent on behalf of its individual condominium unit owners -- Furthermore, due process concerns are implicated where code enforcement lien did not state that it was against individual units or those units' proportional share of condominium's common elements, and record does not establish that unit owners were provided with notice of proceedings to impose lien
Torts -- Contracts -- Liability waivers -- Validity -- Arbitration -- Arbitrable issue -- Trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to compel arbitration based on its determination that the waiver agreement containing the arbitration clause was unenforceable because waiver's exculpatory clause was ambiguous -- It was arbitrator's role, not trial court's, to consider whether exculpatory clause was valid -- Unless a challenge is to the arbitration clause itself, the issue of the contract's validity is to be considered by the arbitrator -- Because plaintiff did not specifically challenge the arbitration provision, trial court should have compelled arbitration
Torts -- Automobile accident -- Damages -- Inconsistent verdict -- Appeals -- Preservation of issue -- Because plaintiff failed to request that verdict be resubmitted to jury for reconsideration, plaintiff failed to preserve argument that jury verdict awarding damages for past medical expenses without a finding of permanent injury was inconsistent -- Objection alone is insufficient to preserve issue of an inconsistent verdict for appellate review
Criminal Law Headnotes (Jump to Civil Law Headnotes)
THESE ARE NOT ALL OF THE CASES RELEASED BY THE COURTS FOR THE WEEK.
Criminal law -- Evidence -- Surveillance photographs -- Authentication -- Silent witness -- Double jeopardy -- Separate convictions for both grand theft and defrauding financial institution violated double jeopardy -- Grand theft conviction vacated -- Resentencing required on remaining counts -- Trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting surveillance photographs from financial institution's security cameras showing defendant depositing an altered check -- Surveillance photos were admissible under silent witness theory, which provides that photographic evidence may be admitted upon proof of the reliability of the process which produced the photograph or videotape -- Discussion of factors serving as guidelines when determining whether evidence is admissible under the “silent witness” theory -- State established evidence of the photographs' time and place via time stamps, that there was no evidence of tampering, the accuracy of the cameras, and that normal procedures were followed in pulling the footage
Criminal law -- Habitual traffic offender -- Removal of designation -- Denial -- Appeals -- An order denying relief to a movant/defendant in a criminal proceeding seeking to remove an HTO designation imposed after a final judgment and finding of guilt have been entered is appealable under rule 9.140(b)(1)(D) -- Court rejects argument that procedure for removal of HTO designation set forth in section 322.27(5)(b) is solely administrative and exempt from judicial review -- State's motion to dismiss appeal is denied
Criminal law -- Juveniles -- Battery -- Evidence -- Surveillance footage -- Authentication -- Trial court did not abuse its discretion by admitting into evidence at adjudicatory hearing the contents of footage derived from a residential surveillance system which showed juvenile punching another resident of group home -- Evidence was properly admitted under “silent witness” theory, which allows photographic evidence to be admitted upon a showing of the reliability of the production process -- Discussion of guiding factors for use in determining reliability of production process -- State presented sufficient evidence to establish that footage viewed in court was consistent with that produced on day of incident and that juvenile and alleged victim were depicted on video
Criminal law -- Possession of firearm by convicted felon -- Related offenses -- Dismissal -- Trial court erred in denying defendant's motion to dismiss charges of possession of cocaine and resisting officer without violence where offenses were related to a possession of firearm by convicted felon offense that defendant was found not guilty of committing in a prior trial -- Defendant was entitled to dismissal of those counts under rule 3.151(c) where all counts against defendant were charged in the same information, triable in the same court, and were based on two or more connected acts or transactions
Criminal law -- Probation revocation -- Finding that defendant willfully violated probation by associating with person engaging in criminal activity was supported by competent substantial evidence -- Discussion of “willful association”
Criminal law -- Self-defense -- Justifiable use of deadly force -- Evidence -- Right to testify -- Trial court abused discretion in granting defendant's motion in limine that excluded from use at trial defendant's testimony at a pretrial self-defense immunity hearing -- In general, a defendant's testimony at a pretrial self-defense immunity hearing is admissible in evidence at later proceedings -- Mistake in placing the burden of proof on defendant at his pretrial self-defense immunity hearing did not render his decision to testify at the hearing involuntary or unintelligent in violation of his Fifth Amendment rights where there is no record of coercion or unintelligent decision-making associated with defendant's decision to testify at the hearing -- Evidence indicated that defendant's use of deadly force was not justified, and defendant made a strategy call to testify -- Even if burden-of-proof mistake prompted defendant to testify in support of his self-defense claim, his Fifth Amendment rights were not violated