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).

Federal Judge: Fact Issues Preclude Summary Judgment In Professional Liability Suit

TAMPA, Fla. - Genuine issues of fact exist as to whether a title and escrow company is an innocent insured and whether its alleged sole owner was a covered insured when he misappropriated $4.7 million in escrow funds, a Florida federal judge ruled Aug. 2, denying a professional liability insurer's motion for summary judgment (Max Specialty Insurance Co. v. A Clear Title and Escrow Exchange LLC, et al., No. 8:12-cv-727-T-26MAP, M.D. Fla., Tampa Div.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108865).

Federal Judge Approves 4 More Settlements In Overdraft Fees Litigation

MIAMI - Marshall & Ilsley Bank (M&I), Great Western Bank (GWB), Commerce Bank N.A. and Associated Bank N.A. on Aug. 2 became the latest banks to exit a multidistrict litigation in which class members allege that banks manipulated the order of debit card transactions to maximize checking account overdraft fees litigation when a federal judge in Florida approved settlements between the banks and classes of customers (In Re: Checking Account Overdraft Litigation, No. 09-md-02036, S.D. Fla.).

Florida Jury Awards $22.5M In Punitive Damages To Family Of Dead Smoker

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.- A Florida jury on July 31 ordered R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) to pay $22.5 million in punitive damages to the husband and children of a woman who died of lung cancer (Jan Grossman, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. 08-80000 (19), No. 2008-CV-25828 (19), Fla. Cir., Broward Co.).

Massachusetts Federal Judge Appointed To Manage Florida Tobacco Docket

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Massachusetts federal judge on Aug. 1 was appointed to oversee thousands of cases in the Middle District of Florida asserting death and injury from smoking pursuant to Engle v. Liggett Group Inc. (945 So. 2d 1246 $(Fla. 2006$)) (In re: Engle Cases, No. 3:09-cv-10000-J-32JBT, M.D. Fla., Jacksonville Div.).

Parties Seek Final Approval Of $7.2 Million Defective Drywall Settlement

NEW ORLEANS - A group of Florida condo owners and a construction firm filed a joint motion in a Louisiana federal court on July 30 seeking final approval of a $7.2 million settlement to fund remediation costs of condo units affected by defective drywall (In re: Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, No. 2:09md02047, E.D. La.).

Florida Federal Judge Won't Dismiss Trademark Case

MIAMI - A defendant's efforts to obtain dismissal of trademark infringement and cybersquatting allegations were unsuccessful July 26, when a Florida federal judge deemed a plaintiff's complaint sufficiently pleaded to survive the motion (Dan Pronman, et al. v. Bryan Styles, No. 12-80674, S.D. Fla.).

Tiffany Granted Preliminary Injunction Over Purported Online Counterfeiters

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Eleven days after issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO) against 64 defendants accused of selling counterfeit Tiffany (NJ) LLC merchandise, a Florida federal judge on July 22 granted the luxury goods company's motion to temporarily enjoin the defendants that are accused of Lanham Act violations (Tiffany (NJ), LLC v. Gu Jianfang d/b/a AAA909.com, et al., No. 0:13-cv-61470, S.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102006).

Florida Federal Judge Dismisses Health Care Insurance Reimbursement Suit

MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on July 22 dismissed a reimbursement suit brought by a provider of health care against a health insurance company for failure to state a claim (Hialeah Physicians Care v. Connecticut General Life Insurance Co., No. 13-21895, S.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 102007).

Request For Sanctions Denied In Class Suit Alleging Bacteria-Laden Hot Tubs

MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on July 23 denied a motion seeking sanctions against counsel representing a class of cruise passengers who allege bacteria-related injuries after soaking in hot tubs on Carnival Corp. ships (Tab Lankford, et al. v. Carnival Corp., d/b/a Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc., No. 12-24408, S.D. Fla.).

Judge: Insurance Guaranty Association Failed To Show Product Liability Claim

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA), substituting for an insolvent insurer, failed to establish that a cooker was defective and caused an insured's fire, a Florida federal judge held July 18 (Florida Insurance Guaranty Association v. National Presto Industries Inc., No. 12-160, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100592).

Florida Appeals Panel Revives Couple's Claims Against Health Care Company

MIAMI - The Third District Florida Court of Appeal on July 17 reversed a trial court decision dismissing claims against a health care provider, ruling that the plaintiffs' claims were not for medical malpractice (Angel Acosta, et al. v. HealthSpring of Florida Inc., No. 3D12-1340, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.; 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 11358).

Loan Referral Entities Must Pay $9.5M To Consumers, Federal Judge Determines

ORLANDO, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on July 18 ordered an online payday loan referral service and its affiliates to pay $9.5 million to consumers whom they allegedly surreptitiously charged $100 a year for memberships (Federal Trade Commission v. Direct Benefits Group LLC, et al., No. 11-1186, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 100593).

Failure To Settle May Support Bad Faith Claim, But Not Breach Claim, Judge Rules

ORLANDO, Fla. - An auto insurer saw its motion to dismiss third-party claims against it partially denied on July 12 when a Florida federal judge found that disputed issues of material fact made dismissal of a bad faith claim inappropriate (Lorinda Tanaka v. GEICO General Insurance Co., No. 6:11-cv-02002, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97628).

Florida Supreme Court Upholds Ruling Regarding Defects In Residential Areas

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on July 11 affirmed an appellate panel's decision to reverse summary judgment for the defendants in a construction defects case, ruling that the implied warranties of fitness and merchantability apply to improvements that provide essential services to a community (Maronda Homes Inc. v. Lakeview Reserve Homeowners Association Inc., No. SC10-2292, Fla. Sup.; 2013 Fla. LEXIS 1430).

Florida Panel: Court Erred In Applying State Arbitration Code To 'Confirm' Award

MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on July 10 found that a lower court improperly applied the Florida Arbitration Code to "confirm" a $1,058,122.52 appraisal award against an insurer stemming from a Hurricane Wilma claim, reversing and remanding the lower court's ruling against the insurer (Citizens Property Insurance Corporation, etc. v. Mango Hill #6 Condominium Association Inc., No. 3D10-2630, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.; 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 10974).

Duty To Defend Lawsuit Dismissed In Florida For Lack Of Federal Jurisdiction

ORLANDO, Fla. - A declaratory judgment suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida by the insurance carrier of a Florida hotel accused of exposing guests to chlorine and sulfuric acid fumes in a pool was dismissed July 10 for lack of jurisdiction (The Burlington Insurance Co. Inc. v. George Brown, et al., No. 13-64, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96322).

Loss Of Consortium Claim Arises At Time Of Exposure In Florida, Judge Says

TAMPA, Fla. - Saying he "sympathized" with the plaintiffs, a federal judge July 10 said he nonetheless must "reluctantly" grant summary judgment on loss of consortium claims under Florida law because the couple was not married at the time of the husband's alleged exposure to asbestos (Mark Flomenhoft and Linda Flomenhoft v. Georgia-Pacific LLC and Union Carbide Corp., No. 12-2496, M.D. Fla.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96211).

Pennsylvania Superior Court Adopts Insurance Duty Rule, Vacates $80 Million Award

PITTSBURGH - In an opinion of first impression released July 10, a divided Pennsylvania Superior Court panel adopted a Florida standard for resolving a duty to indemnify dispute arising from the $80 million settlement of a putative class action alleging exposure to fugitive radioactive material released from nuclear fuel refineries near Pittsburgh (The Babcock & Wilcox Co., et al. v. American Nuclear Insurers, et al., No. 525 WDA 2012, Pa. Super.; 2013 PA Super. 174; 2013 Pa. Super. LEXIS 1630).

Fla. Federal Judge Dismisses Patient Privacy Suit For Lack Of Jurisdiction

ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on July 3 dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction a class complaint accusing a hospital of failing to protect patient records (Richard Faircloth, et al. v. Adventist Health System/Sunbelt, Inc. d/b/a Florida Hospital, et al., No. 13-572, M.D. Fla.).

Bankruptcy Judge Remands Insolvent Insurer's Receiver's Fraudulent Transfer Claim

LINCOLN, Neb. - A federal bankruptcy judge in Nebraska on July 3 remanded a lawsuit filed by an insolvent insurer's receiver against the estate of a former insurance agency regarding conversion of unremitted premiums and fraudulent transfers of assets (In the matter of: Diederike Marlene Fulkerson; State of Florida, ex rel. Florida Department of Insurance, receiver for United Southern Assurance Co. v. Diederike Marlene Fulkerson, No. BK12-41750-TLS & A12-4081-TLS, Chapter 7, D. Neb. Bkcy.; 2013 Bankr. LEXIS 2697).