Justia Civil Procedure Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Florida Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal affirming Defendant's convictions of driving under the influence (DUI) causing damage to property or person and DUI causing serious bodily injury, holding that Defendant's dual convictions violated double jeopardy.On appeal, Defendant argued that his dual convictions arising from a single episode violated double jeopardy. The Third District affirmed, holding that principles of double jeopardy did not prohibit dual convictions and sentences for DUI property damages/bodily injury and DUI serious bodily injury arising from the commission of a single act. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the criminal offenses of DUI causing damage to property or person and DUI causing bodily injury are degree variants of the same offense under Fla. Stat. 775.021(4)(b)2; and (2) Defendant's dual convictions for both offenses as to the same victim arising from a single episode violated the prohibition against double jeopardy. View "Velazco v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court approved the ruling of the Fifth District Court of Appeal that a trial court may order a defendant over whom it has in personam jurisdiction to act on foreign property pursuant to Fla. Stat. 56.29(6), holding that a trial court has the authority to order a defendant over whom it has in personam jurisdiction to act on foreign property.The district court concluded that section 56.29(6) plainly authorizes a trial court to order a debtor, over whom the court has in personam jurisdiction, to act on assets located outside of the court's territorial jurisdiction. The Supreme Court approved the district court's ruling, holding that the trial court in this case undisputedly had in personam jurisdiction over the debtor and therefore compel him to act on his foreign assets under section 56.29(6). View "Shim v. Buechel" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal concluding that the circuit court had personal jurisdiction over Tribeca Asset Management, Inc., holding that the parties' agreement did not provide for arbitration in Florida.Tribeca and Ancla International, S.A. entered into a confidentiality agreement. Ancla later filed a petition to compel arbitration. The circuit court dismissed the petition for lack of personal jurisdiction, concluding that a provision in the parties' agreement did not contain a forum selection clause and merely contained a choice of law provision. The Third District reversed, concluding that the provision contained a forum selection clause. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the agreement did not provide for arbitration in Florida. View "Tribeca Asset Management, Inc. v. Ancla International, S.A." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered in the negative a question certified to it by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, holding that it is not a departure from the essential requirements of law to permit discovery regarding the financial relationship between a defendant's nonparty insurer and an expert witness retained by the defense.This case involved a discovery dispute in an automobile negligence action. Plaintiff sought to discover from Defendant the financial relationship between Defendant's nonparty insurer and his expert witness. Defendant was ordered to provide the discovery. Defendant then filed a petition for writ of certiorari. The Fourth District denied the writ but certified a question to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered the question in the negative, thus approving the result reached by the Fourth District, and declined to readdress its holding or analysis adopted in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men's Christian Ass'n, 228 So. 3d 18 (Fla. 2017). View "Dodgen v. Grijalva" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court answered in the negative a question certified to it by the Fourth District Court of Appeal, holding that it is not a departure from the essential requirements of law to permit discovery regarding the financial relationship between a defendant's nonparty insurer and an expert witness retained by the defense.In this automobile negligence case, the district court passed upon a question that it certified to be of great public importance regarding whether the Supreme Court's decision in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men's Christian Ass'n, 228 S. 3d 18 (Fla. 2017), forecloses discovery of the financial relationship between a personal injury defendant's nonparty law firm and the defendant's expert witnesses. The Supreme Court answered the question in the negative, thus approving the result reached by the Fourth District, and declined to readdress its holding or analysis adopted in Worley v. Central Florida Young Men's Christian Ass'n, 228 So. 3d 18 (Fla. 2017). View "Younkin v. Blackwelder" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that there should not be an exception to the present summary judgment standards applied by Florida state courts that would allow for summary judgment in favor of the moving party when the movant's video evidence negates or refutes any conflicting evidence presented in opposition to the summary judgment motion and there is no evidence that the videotape evidence has been altered or doctored.In this case arising from a fatal rear-end car crash the trial court granted summary judgment for Defendants, relying on video evidence from the front car's forward-facing dashboard camera that appeared to refute Plaintiff's version of the events. The Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that the trial court improperly weighed competing evidence on material facts. The Supreme Court approved the result, holding that there was no reason to adopt an ad hoc video evidence exception to the existing summary judgment standard. View "Wilsonart, LLC v. Lopez" on Justia Law

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After denying Plaintiff's petition for a writ of mandamus the Supreme Court sanctioned Plaintiff, holding that Plaintiff abused the judicial process and burdened the Court's limited judicial resources.Plaintiff was the defendant in two civil actions brought by Defendant, and motions for summary judgment against Plaintiff were granted in each case. Plaintiff subsequently filed six petitions or notices seeking relief related to the civil cases and filed more than one hundred pleadings in connection with each case. All six cases were either denied dismissed, or transferred. Based on Plaintiff's filing history, the Supreme Court issued an order directing him to show cause why he should not be prohibited from filing any further pro se documents in the Court related to two cases. The Court then held, based on Plaintiff's persistent history of filing pro se petitions that were frivolous, meritless, or otherwise inappropriate for the Court's review, the Clerk of the Court is instructed to reject any future filings submitted by Plaintiff related to the two civil cases unless such filings were signed by a member in good standing of the Florida Bar. View "Wetzel v. Travelers Companies, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court accepted a question certified to it by the Second District Court of Appeal as to whether the pre-2014 version of Rule Regulating the Florida Bar 4-3.4(b) prevents the prevailing party in the underlying case from taxing as costs certain payments made to fact witnesses, answering that the party here was not permitted to pay a fact witness for the witness’s assistance with case and discovery preparation that was not directly related to the witness preparing for, attending, or testifying at proceedings.Rule 4-3.4(b) addresses witness payments and the prohibition against offering inducements to witnesses. In this dispute over the recoverable amount of prevailing party fees and costs, the Second District concluded that payments made to fact witnesses for their “assistance with case and discovery preparation” were permitted under rule 4-3.4(b) and were thus recoverable. The Supreme Court accepted certification and held (1) Rule 4-3.4(b) permits a party to pay a fact witness for the witness’s assistance with case and discovery preparation that is directly related to the witness preparing for, attending, or testifying at proceedings; and (2) this case must be remanded because it is unclear which witness payments were included in the trial court’s cost award. View "Trial Practices, Inc. v. Hahn Loeser & Parks, LLP" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court approved the result reached by the First District Court of Appeal affirming the trial court’s rejection of Petitioners’ challenge to the State’s K-12 public education system based on the State’s alleged failure to comply with Fla. Const. art. IX, 1(a), holding that Coalition for Adequacy & Fairness in School Funding, Inc. v. Chiles (Coalition), 680 So. 2d 400 (Fla. 1996) defeated Petitioners’ claim.In their complaint, Petitioners sought a declaration that the State was breaching its duty to make adequate provision for an “efficient” and “high quality” system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education. Petitioners requested that the courts order the State to establish a remedial plan including studies to determine what resources are necessary to provide a high quality education to Florida students. The trial court rejected Petitioners’ challenge, and the court of appeal affirmed. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that because Petitioners failed to present any manageable standard by which to avoid judicial intrusion into the powers of the other branches of government, the court of appeal properly affirmed the trial court’s rejection of Petitioners’ blanket challenge to the adequacy of the funding of the entire K-12 education system. View "Citizens for Strong Schools, Inc. v. State Board of Education" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court quashed the decision of the Third District Court of Appeal regarding whether proposals for settlement made pursuant to Fla. Stat. 768.79 and Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.442 must comply with the email service provisions of Florida Rule of Judicial Administration 2.516, holding that proposals for settlement are not subject to the email service requirement of rule 2.516.The trial court in this case denied Petitioner’s motion to enforce her proposal for settlement because Petitioner’s email to Respondent containing the proposal for settlement did not strictly comply with all of the formatting requirements set forth in the rule 2.516. The Third District Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court quashed the decision below, holding (1) the Third District erred in finding that a proposal for settlement is subject to the requirements of rule 2.516; and (2) even if rule 2.516 applied to proposals for settlement, Petitioner’s failure to comply with the email formatting requirements set forth in the rule would not render the proposal unenforceable because the proposal complied with the substantive requirements set forth in section 768.79. View "Wheaton v. Wheaton" on Justia Law