BRADENTON, Fla. - A Florida state court judge declared a mistrial May 5 in a suit by the family of a smoker who died of coronary artery disease at age 45, citing the failure of the plaintiffs to inform the court that a key witness had changed his testimony part way through the trial (Madonna Dupre, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2011CA005529, Fla. 12th Jud. Cir., Manatee Co.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A state court jury awarded more than $6.3 million May 1 to the family of a longtime smoker who died of lung cancer but declined to award punitive damages against defendant Philip Morris USA Inc. (Mary Brown, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Rayfield Brown, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2008-CA-015000, Fla. 4th Jud. Cir., Duval Co.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida woman who sued over unsolicited political calls placed to her cell phone failed to prove commonality in her motion for class certification, a Florida federal judge ruled April 27 (Lori Shamblin, et al. v. Obama for America, et al., No. 13-2428, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54849).
TAMPA, Fla. - Federal pleading standards and not Florida's more strict ones apply to an asbestos action, and plaintiffs largely adequately plead negligence, strict liability and fraudulent concealment claims against safety mask and airplane parts defendants, a federal Florida judge ruled April 27 (Darryl S. Dugas and Marsha Dugas v. 3M Co., et al., No. 14-39, M.D. Fla.).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A majority of a Florida appeals court on April 24 found that a lower court erred in finding that insureds were entitled to appraisal of their claim for sinkhole damage, further concluding that the insureds' conduct in litigating their claim amounted to a waiver of the appraisal (Florida Insurance Guaranty Association Inc. v. Oscar Lustre, et al., No. 2D13-5780, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 6026).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Philip Morris USA Inc. is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on claims of fraudulent concealment and conspiracy brought by a longtime smoker who developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a federal judge ruled April 23, vacating an award of $20.76 million in punitive damages (Judith Berger v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 3:09-cv-14157-WGY-HTS, M.D. Fla.).
MIAMI - A Florida state court jury returned a defense verdict April 23 in a suit alleging that a woman's chronic pulmonary disease (COPD) and death were caused by her more than 30 years of smoking cigarettes manufactured by Philip Morris USA Inc. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Tina Russo, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 2007-44469-CA-01, Fla. Cir., 11th Jud. Cir., Miami-Dade Co.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A state court jury awarded $25 million in punitive damages April 21 to a man who alleged that his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was caused by his 40 years of smoking cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Thomas Ryan v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CV-022579, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud., Broward Co.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A nature photographer won a default judgment April 21 in Florida federal court on claims of copyright infringement (Mia McPherson v. Seaduced LLC, No. 14-2315, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52374).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 20 that "it is simply too late" for a patent plaintiff to appeal the question of whether a Florida federal judge should have interpreted a license agreement under Quebec law (Sweepstakes Patent Company LLC v. Chase Burns, et al., No. 14-1851, Fed. Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6429).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A settlement proposal rejected by the plaintiff in a medical malpractice case did not meet the requirements under Florida law for an award of attorney fees and costs to the defendant following the entry of a defense verdict, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in a split decision April 16 (Ancel Pratt Jr. v. Michael C. Weiss, D.O., et al., No. SC12-1783, Fla. Sup.).
MIAMI - FCA US Inc. LLC, formerly known as Chrysler Group LLC, filed an objection April 10 to the appointment of Paul C. Huck Jr. of Jones Day in Miami to serve as special mediator for the consolidated air bag litigation against Takata Corp. and eight auto manufacturers in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida (In re: Takata Airbag Products Liability Litigation, No. 15-02599-CIV-Moreno, MDL No. 15-2599, S.D. Fla.).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on April 10 granted a petition for writ of certiorari by Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) and quashed a lower court's order granting insureds' motion for partial summary judgment regarding liability and damages associated with subsurface repair costs in a sinkhole damage coverage dispute (Florida Insurance Guaranty Association v. Chad Murphy & Lorraine Murphy, No. 2D13-5609, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 5256).
MIAMI - Trial got under way in the Florida 11th Judicial Circuit Court with opening statements April 10 in a suit that was the subject of a Florida Supreme Court ruling eight days earlier resolving a conflict among the state appellate courts on the standard of proof for claims of misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment in Engle-progeny suits (Tina Russo, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 2007-44469-CA-01, Fla. Cir., 11th Jud. Cir., Miami-Dade Co.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Opening statements got under way April 10 - for the second time in less than two weeks - in an Engle progeny suit in which a mistrial was declared just two hours after the Florida Supreme Court handed down two rulings on the standard of proof for fraudulent concealment claims against the tobacco industry (Thomas Ryan v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CV-022579, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud., Broward Co.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on April 9 granted a joint motion for approval of a consent decree under which a Florida clinic will pay $150,000 to settle claims brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that it unlawfully terminated a transgender employee in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Lakeland Eye Clinic, P.A., No. 14-2421, M.D. Fla.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Building Materials Corp. of America, doing business as GAF Materials Corp. (GAF), was ordered by a federal magistrate judge in Florida on April 8 to pay $500 in sanctions for its delayed production of information about similar lawsuits over allegedly defective roofing adhesive, after the magistrate found that the defendant company's action caused Thermoset Corp. to incur additional expenses (Thermoset Corporation v. Building Materials Corp. of America, et al., No. 14-60268-CIV-COHEN-SELTZER, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45924).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on April 9 awarded summary judgment to the maker of a roofing adhesive and the company that distributed it after finding that a roof installer's failure to present expert evidence to support its argument that the product was defective is fatal to its claims (Thermoset Corporation v. Building Materials Corp. of America, et al., No. 14-60268-CIV-COHEN-SELTZER, S.D. Fla.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - An amendment to the Florida interest-rate statute is applicable to a $25 million award to the estate of a man who died of smoking-related lung cancer, the Florida First District Court of Appeal ruled April 9 (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Lyantie Townsend, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Frank Townsend, No. 1D14-4147, Fla. App., 1st Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 5131).
MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on April 8 dismissed certain claims filed by a borrower against a mortgage company but allowed her claims for violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) to proceed (Gayle Helman v. Udren Law Office, P.C., No. 14-CV-60808, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45922).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The federal judge overseeing the Engle cases in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on April 6 appointed U.S. Magistrate Judge Anthony E. Porcelli of the Middle District of Florida as special master to oversee the $100 million aggregate settlement agreement between tobacco plaintiffs and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Philip Morris USA Inc. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. (In re: Engle Progeny Cases, No. 3:09-cv-10000-WGY, M.D. Fla.).
ORLANDO, Fla. - Efforts by four defendants to obtain dismissal, on jurisdictional grounds, of trademark infringement allegations were unsuccessful, a federal judge in Florida ruled April 6 (Mighty Men of God Inc. v. World Outreach Church of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Inc., et al., No. 14-947, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44685).