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Sturgill v. Lucas, et al.

Case: Sturgill v. Lucas, et al.
Venue: Second District Court of Appeal

Lissette Gonzalez of CSK’s Miami office and Mark Tinker of CSK’s Tampa office obtained an affirmance of a final summary judgment entered in favor of the defendant/appellee in a negligence action arising from a roadway accident. The defendant/appellee successfully argued that the plaintiff/appellant could not establish her negligence claim as there was no evidence that the defendant/appellee was subject to or breached any legal duty of care, thus proceeding to a trial in the matter would have been futile. The Second District Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of the trial court in all respects.

AGM Development II, LLC v. Tower East Incorporated

Case: AGM Development II, LLC v. Tower East Incorporated
Venue: Third District Court of Appeal

Thomas L. Hunker and Michael A. Rosenberg of CSK’s Plantation office obtained an affirmance of a dismissal of a counterclaim filed by a unit owner against a condominium association in retaliation for the association filing an action to foreclose on a lien for an unpaid special assessment. This was the unit owner’s second appeal after CSK obtained a dismissal of the unit owner’s first appeal as prematurely filed. The case was heavily litigated at the trial level resulting in awards of attorneys’ fees in favor of the association on its affirmative claim and for defense against the unit owner’s counterclaim. Unit owner raised numerous issues contesting the validity of the association’s board of directors, the passage of the special assessment, breach of fiduciary duty, and restrictions on rental of units. The appellate court affirmed the appeal in all respects including the judgments on the claim of lien, the counterclaim, and the two attorneys’ fee judgments in favor of the association. In addition, the appellate court granted the association’s motion for appellate attorneys’ fees for prevailing in the second appeal.

Rodrigues v. Faassen

Case: Rodrigues v. Faassen
Venue: Fourth District Court of Appeal

Alexandra Valdes of CSK’s Miami office obtained a per curiam affirmance of a final summary judgment entered in favor of a homeowner on claims of negligence and vicarious liability brought by the employee of an independent contractor hired by the homeowner to remodel the homeowner’s home.

Young & Son, Inc. d/b/a Young’s Contracting v. Midsouth Paving, Inc.

Case: Young & Son, Inc. d/b/a Young’s Contracting v. Midsouth Paving, Inc.
Venue: First District Court of Appeal

Lissette Gonzalez of CSK’s Miami office obtained an affirmance of the trial court’s denial of the plaintiff/appellant’s Petition for Judicial Relief from Arbitration. The defendant/appellee successfully argued that trial court properly denied the Petition and ordered that the case remain in arbitration as the claims raised fell squarely within the scope of the arbitration provision contained in the contract between the parties. The First District Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of the trial court in all respects.

Keys Country Resort, LLC v. 1733 Overseas Highway, LLC

Case: Keys Country Resort, LLC v. 1733 Overseas Highway, LLC
Venue: Third District Court of Appeal

Thomas L. Hunker and Michael A. Rosenberg of CSK’s Fort Lauderdale West office obtained the dismissal of an appeal of a trial court order denying the plaintiff/appellant’s motion to lift a stay order. The defendant/appellee successfully argued that the appeal was an unauthorized non-final appeal, or in the alternative, the Third District Court of Appeal lacked jurisdiction because the plaintiff/appellant failed to demonstrate irreparable harm in its initial brief. The Third District Court of Appeal agreed and dismissed the appeal.

Araujo v. Winn-Dixie Supermarkets

Case: Araujo v. Winn-Dixie Supermarkets
Venue: Third District Court of Appeal

Therese A. Savona of CSK’s Orlando office obtained an affirmance of a jury verdict in favor of Winn-Dixie Supermarkets in a slip and fall case. In its written Opinion, the appellate court addressed several issues that occurred during the trial, including comments during opening statements and closing arguments, admission of workers’ compensation documents, questioning related to plaintiff’s retention of counsel, and cross-examination of plaintiff’s physician under Worley, and affirmed the jury’s verdict. The appellate court also affirmed the trial court’s denial of the plaintiff/appellee’s request for attorneys’ fees under rule 1.380(c).

GEICO Indemnity Company v. Accident & Injury Clinic (a/a/o Frank Irizarry)

Case: GEICO Indemnity Company v. Accident & Injury Clinic (a/a/o Frank Irizarry)
Venue: Fifth District Court of Appeal

Michael A. Rosenberg, Thomas L. Hunker and Peter D. Weinstein of CSK’s Fort Lauderdale West office obtained a reversal of eleven Volusia County Circuit Court Appellate Opinions on a consolidated second-tier certiorari review. This litigation stems from a Medical Provider’s argument that the Insurer was required to reimburse 100% of the Provider’s charge where that charge was less than 200% of the Medicare Part B fee schedule (“Billed Amount”). The county court ruled in favor of the Provider. On appeal to the Circuit Court, the Insurer maintained that its policy language permitted it to reimburse the medical provider 80% of the Billed Amount. In its opinion, the Circuit Court agreed that the Insurer’s policy stated that it would reimburse the Medical Provider 80% of the Billed Amount, but nonetheless affirmed the county court’s order on summary judgment finding that the Insurer’s PIP policy conflicted with the PIP statute.

The Insurer filed second-tier petitions for writ of certiorari to the Fifth District Court of Appeal, arguing that the Circuit Court departed from the essential requirements of the law when it misinterpreted the PIP statute. The Fifth District Court of Appeal agreed with the Insurer, quashed the Circuit Court’s Opinions, and remanded for proceedings consistent with its opinion. The Fifth District Court of Appeal denied the Provider’s motion for appellate attorneys’ fees.

Naked Lady Ranch v. Wycoki

Case: Naked Lady Ranch v. Wycoki
Venue: Fourth District Court of Appeal

David C. Borucke of CSK’s Tampa office obtained a reversal of a final judgment, entered after an eight-day bench trial, determining that the defendant/appellant, a private aviation community, had improperly terminated the plaintiff/appellee’s airport membership. On appeal, the defendant/appellant successfully argued that the trial court erred by failing to limit the scope of its inquiry to whether the community had afforded a fair and reasonable procedure, as required by the rule of judicial deference to membership organizations. The appellate court reversed and remanded for the entry of a judgment in favor of the defendant/appellant. The reversal also negates a substantial attorneys’ fee award in favor of plaintiff/appellee and allows, instead, defendant/appellant to recover its fees

The Florida Supreme Court UPDATED response to COVID-19

As a precaution against the evolving COVID-19 health emergency, the Florida Supreme Court provided additional direction to Florida courts – and to “parties” and court “participants” – in a March 24, 2020 administrative order (AOSC20-17). Principally, the new Order extends to April 17, 2020, the suspensions, delayed deadlines, and restrictions of prior orders (AOSC20-13, AOSC20-15, and AOSC20-16). The Order cautions that further restrictions may be forthcoming.

The Order recognizes the “pandemic continues to have a massive effect upon the operations of the State Courts System and the lives of all Floridians.” As with prior orders, the Court’s purpose is “to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on the courts” by creating the social space needed to contain the COVID-19 virus. Importantly, the Order gives substantial discretion to the chief judge of each of Florida’s twenty judicial circuits; as such, for any particular proceeding, counsel and parties should review local administrative orders for guidance.

In broad terms, the Order advises that “Judges who can conduct court business from a remote location are strongly encouraged to do so.” Telephonic hearings, therefore, will likely be the norm for non-evidentiary hearings. For evidentiary hearings, the chief judges may direct presiding judges to conduct video hearings, following the Court’s guidance that “chief judges are directed to take all possible steps to facilitate conducting proceedings with the use of technology.” To this end, “[a]ll rules of procedure, court orders, and opinions applicable to court proceedings that limit or prohibit the use of communication equipment for the conducting of proceedings by remote electronic means are suspended.” Notaries, for example, may now administer oaths through audio-video communication.

In specific terms, the Court suspends until April 17, 2020 (extending the suspension of prior Orders) the following:
– grand jury proceedings
– jury selection
– civil and criminal trials
– writs of possession under Rule 1.580

Proceedings already commenced may continue if required by the interests of justice, as determined by the chief judge and presiding judge.

For criminal proceedings, the Order suspends all time periods for the “speedy trial procedure” through April 20, 2020. The Order provides additional directives related to the incarceration and transportation of criminal defendants.

Finally, the order does not suspend “essential proceedings” or “critical proceedings” related to the response to the COVID-19 health emergency crisis. The unaffected proceedings, however, are limited to those involving personal liberty, dependency, and related constitutional rights.

For more information, please find a copy of the full Order in the following link: https://www.floridasupremecourt.org/content/download/632431/7186205/AOSC20-17.pdf

CSK Recently Obtained a Favorable Verdict in a Case Involving a Rear-End Accident with Admitted Liability.

CSK Miami Partner Richard Adams and Jacksonville Associate Christopher Walsh recently obtained a very favorable verdict after a week-long trial in Jacksonville, Florida. The case involved a rear-end accident with admitted liability. The defendant was in the course of his employment and driving a company van. The plaintiff claimed significant injury and had undergone a one level cervical fusion. Following surgery, the Plaintiff still complained of continued neck and back pain and was therefore on a lifetime course of pain management. Plaintiff’s past economics were over $200,000, and at trial, Plaintiff asked the jury for $1.8 million. The jury found no permanent injury and awarded Plaintiff only $15,900, which represented 6 weeks of the initial chiropractic treatment for a neck strain/sprain