FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A state court judge April 2 declared a mistrial in an Engle progeny case 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.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A plaintiff seeking to assert a fraudulent concealment claim in an Engle progeny suit is not required to prove reliance on statements made by the defendant tobacco company within the 12-year statute of repose period leading up to the May 5, 1994, filing of the original Engle complaint, the Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously in two decisions issued April 2, resolving a conflict in the state appellate courts (Elaine Hess, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. SC12-2153; Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Tina Russo, et al., No. SC12-1401, Fla. Sup.).
MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on April 1 found that a lower court erred in issuing an order that compelled appraisal in a coverage dispute over a supplemental claim for Hurricane Wilma damage (State Farm Insurance Co. v. Efrain Xirinachs, et al., No. 3D14-1212, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 4681).
MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on March 30 granted a cruise line's motion to compel arbitration of a system manager's personal injury claims, finding that the claims must be arbitrated pursuant to Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (Francis D'Cruz v. NCL [Bahamas] Ltd., et al., No. 1:15-cv-20240, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40326).
MIAMI - The federal judge overseeing the consolidated litigation against air bag manufacturer Takata Corp. and six auto manufacturers on March 31 appointed Paul C. Huck Jr. of Jones Day in Miami to serve as special mediator for the litigation (In re: Takata Airbag Products Liability Litigation, No. 15-02599-CIV-Moreno, MDL No. 15-2599, S.D. Fla.).
LAKELAND, Fla. - Finding that there is a material issue of fact as to the proper method of subsurface repair in a sinkhole coverage dispute, a Florida appeals panel on March 27 partly reversed and remanded a lower court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the insurer (Rosalyn Roker v. Tower Hill Preferred Insurance Co., No. 2D13-5565, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 4390).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on March 27 reversed and remanded a lower court's order compelling appraisal in a sinkhole coverage dispute and certified two questions to the Florida Supreme Court (Florida Insurance Guaranty Association Inc. v. Franklin Kirschner, et al., No. 2D13-5467, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 4393).
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla - A jury in the Florida 19th Judicial Circuit Court for Indian River County on March 26 awarded $2 million to the husband of a smoker who alleged that her lung cancer was caused by her addiction to cigarettes (Robert Gore, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 08-10052, Fla. 19th Jud. Cir., Indian River Co.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on March 25 denied a title insurer's motion to dismiss its reinsurer's negligence claim, noting the duty of good faith that governs the relationship between insurer and reinsurer (Old Republic National Title Insurance Company v. First American Title Insurance Company, No. 15-cv-00126, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37747).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on March 26 dismissed a declaratory judgment action filed by an insurer seeking determination that it acted in good faith in handling its duty to defend and indemnify an insured in a pair of lawsuits resulting from an automobile accident, ruling that federal court precedent requires such outcome (Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. Peninsula Logistics Inc., et al., No. 14-0154, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38517).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal magistrate judge on March 26 granted a motion by an online file-sharing defendant and his parents for a protective order against "a broadly worded subpoena duces tecum" served on them by a copyright infringement plaintiff, stating that 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals case law and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 34 do not permit the unrestricted computer hard drive access sought in the subpoena (Malibu Media LLC v. Roberto Roldan, No. 8:13-cv-03007, M.D. Fla.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on March 25 found a couple guilty of operating a sham clinic for the purpose of committing health care fraud (United States of America v. Mario Fuertes, et al., No. 14-cr-00092, M.D. Fla.).
TRENTON, N.J. - Allegations of trademark infringement by the New Jersey Turnpike Authority against a Florida pizzeria were dismissed March 26, when a New Jersey federal judge deemed jurisdiction over a defendant lacking (New Jersey Turnpike Authority v. Jersey Boardwalk Pizza Inc., et al., No. 14-4589, D. N.J.).
ATLANTA - A Florida federal judge properly adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation that a copyright infringement defendant be denied prevailing-party attorney fees under the Copyright Act, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed March 26 (Malibu Media LLC v. Leo Pelizzo, No. 14-11795, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 4898).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A federal judge on March 24 rejected Florida insureds' request for $80,008.49 in a Tropical Storm Debby coverage dispute, awarding them only $1,093.38 for additional insulation, stud-wall sealing and out-of-pocket costs (Timothy Slater, et al. v. Hartford Insurance Company of the Midwest, No. 13-345, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36824).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida state court jury awarded $3 million in punitive damages March 25 to the widow of a man who died of lung cancer after smoking for approximately 50 years (Rose Pollari, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 14-001563CA19, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After finding that lease agreements applied to the rental of bunk beds that allegedly contained bed bugs and black mold, a Florida federal judge on March 23 granted a rental corporation's motion to stay a case pending arbitration (Andre Teel, et al. v. Aaron's Inc., No. 3:14-cv-640-J-32, M.D. Fla.).
ATLANTA - A Florida federal judge properly found that plaintiff Sandshaker Lounge and Package Store LLC had no protectable rights in the "bushwacker" trademark because it is "a generic term for a chocolaty frozen drink containing rum and coffee liqueur," the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 19 (Sandshaker Lounge and Package Store LLC v. Quietwater Entertainment Inc., No. 14-14481, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 4419).
MIAMI - A smoker who alleged that his bladder cancer resulted from his years of smoking sufficiently proved that he was addicted to nicotine, entitling him to the benefit of the findings in the Engle class action, a state appeals panel ruled March 18 (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Ralph Ballard, et al., No. 3D13-2597, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 3838).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Finding that an insurance policy provided adequate notice of the insurer's election to use Medicare fee schedules referenced in Florida Statutes Section 627.736(5)(a)2 to calculate personal injury protection (PIP) coverage reimbursements for 14 insureds, a Florida appeals panel on March 18 reversed and remanded the lower court's ruling against the insurer in 14 consolidated cases (Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance, etc. v. Stand-Up MRI of Tallahassee, P. A., as assignee of Charles Black, Nos. 1D14-1213, 1D14-1215, 1D14-1216, 1D14-1217, 1D14-1218, 1D14-1219, 1D14-1220, 1D14-1221, 1D14-1222, 1D14-1223, 1D14-1224, 1D14-1225, 1D14-1226, 1D14-1227, Fla. App., 1st Dist.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on March 12 issued a writ of certiorari and quashed a trial court's order compelling the deposition of the state's insurance commissioner in a suit against the accounting firm of three insolvent insurers (Florida Office of Insurance Regulation v. Florida Department of Financial Services, as Receiver for Southern Family Insurance Company, et al., No. 1D14-4417, Fla. App., 1st Dist.).