Golf Product Manufacturers Granted Restraining Order Over Alleged Counterfeiters

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Sept. 13 granted a temporary restraining order (TRO) to six manufacturers of golf balls, bags, putters and related supplies against the operators of a list of accused counterfeiter websites, ordering temporary shutdown of the sites (Acushnet Co., et al. v., et al., No. 0:13-cv-61895, S.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131133).

Judge: $26 Million Tobacco Death Verdict 'Shocks The Conscience'

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida federal judge has remitted a $26 million tobacco wrongful death verdict to $4.34 million, saying Sept. 12 that the jury's award "shocks the judicial conscience" (Cheryl Searcy v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., 3:09-cv-13723-J-34, M.D. Fla.).

Florida Federal Judge Says Tobacco Plaintiff Can't Bring Evidence Of Additives

MIAMI - A tobacco wrongful death plaintiff may not introduce evidence of additives in cigarette tobacco, a Florida federal judge said in a Sept. 11 decision, because an expert's report does not touch on the question (Ronnie L. Jacobson, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 1:12-cv-23781, S.D. Fla.).

JPMorgan Chase Agrees To Pay $300M To Resolve Force-Placed Insurance Suit

MIAMI - JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. said in a Sept. 6 motion for preliminary approval filed in Florida federal court that it would pay $300 million to resolve claims brought by a class claiming that the bank overcharged borrowers when obtaining force-placed insurance policies for them if they let the hazard insurance on their homes lapse (Alfred Herrick v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A., et al., No. 13-cv-201107, S.D. Fla.).

Federal Judge Refuses To Sever FDIC's Suit Against Closing Agent

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on Sept. 6 denied a motion to sever claims in a suit by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., as the receiver for a failed bank, against the closing agent on a loan, finding that there is no basis to sever the case (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. v. Mario D. German Law Center P.A., No. 12-81298, S.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127381).

Federal Appeals Court Affirms Preclusive Effect Of Florida Tobacco Ruling

ATLANTA - Saying it is required to abide by a state court ruling unless that ruling is constitutionally defective, the 11th Circuit U. S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 6 affirmed two small verdicts that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) had appealed, saying the trials' conduct violated RJR's due process rights (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Pauline Walker, et al., No. 12-13500, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v George Duke III, No. 12-14731, 11th Cir.).

Panel: 'Your Product' Exclusion Bars Insurance Coverage For Replacement Of Faulty Doors

LAKELAND, Fla. - A "your product" exclusion in a commercial general liability insurance policy is applicable to the cost of replacing an insured's defective doors, a Florida appeals panel ruled Sept. 4, reversing in part a trial court's decision that an insurer had to pay $3.4 million for the settlement of several defective product lawsuits (Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. MI Windows Doors Inc. f/k/a MI Home Products Inc., Nos. 2D12-2793 & 2D12-2800, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 14141).

Florida Appeals Court Affirms $25M In Punitives In Tobacco Death Verdict

MIAMI - The Third District Florida Court of Appeal affirmed $25 million in punitive damages to the widow of a smoker on Sept. 4, saying the award, which was in addition to $16 million in compensatory damages, was not unconstitutionally excessive (Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Dorothy Alexander, No. 3D12-1593, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.).

Fact Issue Exists As To Notice Of Hurricane Wilma Loss, Majority Finds, Reverses

MIAMI - A Florida appellate court majority on Aug. 28 found that there is a material question of fact regarding insureds' notice of their alleged property damage loss stemming from Hurricane Wilma, reversing a lower court's ruling in favor of the homeowners insurer in a breach of contract dispute (Paul and Fely Siguenza v. Citizens Property Insurance Corp., No. 3D12-1337, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.; 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 13686).

Federal Judge Won't Dismiss Copyright Case

TAMPA, Fla. - A precious metal dealer can proceed with claims that a competing website copied its product descriptions and photographs without permission, a Florida federal judge ruled Aug. 28 (Gainesville Coins LLC v. BCG Ventures Inc., d/b/a Vanguard Capital Group, No. 13-1402, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122644).

Federal Judge Sends Overdraft Fees Claims To Arbitration

MIAMI - A federal judge in Florida on Aug. 27 dismissed putative class action complaints from a multidistrict litigation in which bank customers allege that several banks manipulated the order of debit card transactions to maximize checking account overdraft fees, finding that the arbitration provisions KeyBank N.A. and Wells Fargo & Co. customers signed are enforceable (In Re: Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, No. 09-md-02036, S.D. Fla.).

Florida Woman Hit With $25,000 Default Judgment For BitTorrent Sharing Of Movie

TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Aug. 23 found a statutory damages award of $25,000 to be "a sufficient deterrent against any future wrongful conduct" by a woman found to have willfully shared a copyrighted movie over the Internet (Bait Products Pty Ltd. v. Angelica Murray, No. 8:13-cv-00169, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120170).

Federal Court Finds For Insurer In Suit Seeking Coverage For Trademark Dispute

FORT MYERS, Fla. - A Florida federal court entered judgment in favor of a commercial general liability insurer on Aug. 27 in a dispute over coverage for an underlying trademark dispute (Power Corp. v. Amerisure Insurance Co., No. 2:12-cv-192-FtM-29DNF, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121077).

Judge: Tobacco Plaintiff May Not Claim Punitive Damages For Unintentional Torts

MIAMI - A tobacco wrongful death plaintiff may not recover punitive damages for the unintentional torts of strict liability and negligence, a Florida federal judge said in an Aug. 26 decision that allowed punitive damages on other counts and otherwise rejected the defendants' motion for summary judgment (Ronnie L. Jacobson, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 1:12-cv-23781, S.D. Fla.).

Judge Finds Insured's Bad Faith Complaint Ample, Not Threadbare

TAMPA, Fla. - Citing recent precedent from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a Florida federal judge on Aug. 21 found that under the "totality of the circumstances standard," an insured who was exposed to an excess liability judgment in an underlying judgment has sufficiently pleaded bad faith claims against his auto insurer, denying the insurer's dismissal motion (Kenneth E. Hayas v. GEICO General Insurance Co., No. 8:13-cv-01432, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118696).

Applying California Law, Judge Denies Dismissal Of Bad Faith Counterclaim

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Aug. 22 determined that California law governed a dispute over coverage for a Florida personal injury and, thus, bad faith is a viable counterclaim, denying an insurer's motion to dismiss (Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Festival Fun Parks LLC, et al., No. 0:12-cv-62212, S.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119440).

Judge: Debt Collector's Demand Letter Was Not False Or Misleading

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A debt collector is entitled to partial summary judgment in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) lawsuit, a federal judge in Florida ruled Aug. 20, because a consumer has failed to show that the debt collector's demand letter was false or misleading (Eric Stanley v. Ideal Collection Services Inc., No. 13-60217, S.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117821).

Untimely Negligence Claims Dismissed In Florida Suit Alleging Heavy Metal Exposure

PANAMA CITY, Fla. - The Federal Tort Claims Act claims of five bellwether plaintiffs in an action filed by federal corrections officers and their families for exposure to heavy metals from an electronics recycling business in a Florida prison were dismissed Aug. 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida because the claims were filed outside the two-year, FTCA statute of limitations (Chelsie Bailey, et al. v. United States, No. 12-104, N.D. Fla.; 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118629).

3rd Circuit Vacates Bayer WeightSmart Vitamin Class For Lack Of 'Ascertainability'

PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 21 vacated certification of a Florida statewide class of consumers who bought Bayer Corp.'s WeightSmart combination multivitamin/dietary supplement, saying the plaintiff has shown no reliable way to ascertain class membership and valid claims (Gabriel Joseph Carrera, et al. v. Bayer Corporation, et al., No. 12-2621, 3rd Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 17479).

Florida Appeals Court Vacates Punitive Damages, Allows Compensatories

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appeals court vacated $50,000 in punitive damages in a smoking wrongful death case Aug. 14, but allowed a compensatory damages award of approximately $957,000 to stand (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Pamela Ciccone, No. 4D11-3807, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 12726).

Florida Court Finds Tenant's Insurance Policy Excludes Mold Coverage

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appeals court on Aug. 13 affirmed a trial court's decision granting summary judgment in favor of an insurer, finding that a tenant's mold-related claims were excluded under his insurance policy (David Abraham v. Universal Insurance Company of North America, a foreign insurance company, No. 4D12-2742; Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 12647).

Federal Circuit Affirms Noninfringement Finding In Patent Dispute

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Florida federal judge's decision to grant judgment as a matter of law (JMOL) on behalf of a patent infringement defendant, along with his subsequent denial of a plaintiff's motion for a new trial, were affirmed Aug. 7 by the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Rembrandt Vision Technology Inc. v. Johnson & Johnson Vision Care Inc., No. 12-1510, Fed. Cir.).

Court: Comments Do Not Justify Overturning $2.4M Tobacco Verdict

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Improper statements during closing argument, which included comparing tobacco companies to heroin pushers, do not justify overturning a $2.4 million tobacco wrongful death verdict, Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal said in an Aug. 7 opinion (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Mary Tullo, Nos. 4D11-2788 and 4D11-2886, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).

Expert Witness Struck, But Treating Physician Stays In Tobacco Death Suit

MIAMI - A federal judge in Florida on Aug. 6 struck a tobacco wrongful death plaintiff's expert on addiction pursuant to Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (509 U.S. 579 $(1993$)) but allowed a plaintiff's treating physician who offered a key diagnosis to testify (Ronnie L. Jacobson, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 1:12-cv-23781, S.D. Fla.).

Federal Judge Allows Late-Fees Suit Against Sallie Mae To Proceed

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal magistrate judge in Florida on Aug. 5 found that SLM Corp. (Sallie Mae) and other defendants have not established that the choice-of-law provisions in promissory notes bar claims at the pleading stage of a putative class action alleging that Sallie Mae's late fees violate California's consumer protection law, allowing the case to continue (Tina M. Ubaldi, et al. v. SLM Corporation, et al., No. 11-1320, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109877).