TAMPA, Fla. - No coverage is afforded for an underlying suit alleging that an insured real estate agent failed to disclose that the ground upon which a home was built once served as a neighborhood dumping pit because the nondisclosure did not cause the property damage and the policies' pollution exclusions bar coverage, a Florida federal judge said July 6 (Southern-Owners Insurance Co., et al. v. Yvonne Herrera, et al., No. 13-2887, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87420).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Allegations that the operators of several gossip websites infringed upon the copyrights of a photo supplier were resolved in favor of the defendants July 6 by a Florida federal judge (BWP Media USA Inc. v. South Florida Chronicle Inc. and Print Killer Media Network LLC, No. 13-61976, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87197).
ATLANTA - Handwriting and fingerprint experts for the U.S. government in a tax fraud and identity theft case against a Florida man were qualified, used scientifically reliable methodology and provided testimony that was helpful to the jury, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found July 2 in affirming the man's conviction (United States of America v. Lee Ervin Dale, No. 14-10733, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11433).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on July 2 found that a homeowner properly pleaded his claims for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA), refusing to grant a motion to dismiss the case filed by a lender and loan servicer (Roberto Jhon Manrique v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., et al., No. 15-80057, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86446).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A group of chemical companies being sued by a farm trust that alleges that the companies have contaminated the trust's property with volatile organic compounds on July 1 filed a brief in Florida federal court arguing that the plaintiffs' second amended complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 12(b)(6) (Noel D. Clark Jr., et al. v. Ashland Inc., No. 13-794, M.D. Fla.).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - An insured owes deductible payments in the amount of $305,000 to its insurer for the resolution of Chinese drywall claims made in a multidistrict litigation, a Florida federal judge held July 1 (Mid-Continent Casualty Co. v. Hansen Homes of South Florida Inc., No. 14-35, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85760).
NEW ORLEANS - BP Exploration & Production Inc. will pay $18.7 billion over the course of 18 years to resolve Clean Water Act (CWA) and natural resource damages claims from the federal government and states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas stemming from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, the company announced today (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, E.D. La.)
ORLANDO, Fla. - A genuine dispute exists over whether a subcontractor caused any delays in a construction project, a Florida magistrate judge found June 26, denying summary judgment to a contractor and its surety (The Davis Group Inc. v. Ace Electric Inc. and The Hartford Casualty Insurance Co., No. 14-251, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83368).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A trial court erred in ordering a hospital to produce confidential contracts between it and 37 health insurers, a Florida appeals panel ruled June 22, finding that the scope of the law under which the order was issued did not extend to such documents (Shands Jacksonville Medical Center Inc. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. 1D14-2001, Fla. App., 1st Dist.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Trial got under way in Florida state court on June 23 with opening statements in a suit alleging that a woman's death from lung cancer and other smoking-related diseases was caused by her addiction to cigarettes (John McCoy, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CV-025806 (19), Fla. 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A recent ruling upholding a $9 million punitive damages verdict in an Engle progeny case should be a factor in deciding whether an earlier order vacating an award of $20.76 million in punitive damages should be reconsidered, a Florida woman argues in a June 23 brief in a Florida federal court (Judith Berger v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 3:09-cv-14157-WGY-HTS, M.D. Fla.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida prison inmate who suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may amend his complaint to indicate whether he alleges that his condition is linked to his 25 years of smoking and to specify the date of onset of his condition, a federal judge ruled June 22 (Benjamin Laflower v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 3:10-227, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80579).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A $9 million punitive damages award to a woman who alleged that her 54 years of smoking caused her to develop peripheral vascular disease (PVD) that led to amputation of her legs is not excessive, a federal judge in Florida ruled June 18 (Donna Brown v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 3:09-10687, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79980).
MIAMI - Breaking with federal courts in New York and California in similar litigation, a Florida federal judge on June 22 found that Flo & Eddie Inc. have no public performance rights under Florida copyright common law in The Turtles' pre-1972 sound recordings (Flo & Eddie Inc. v. Sirius XM Radio Inc., No. 13-23182, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80535).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A jury's finding that an Engle plaintiff's claims are barred by the statute of limitations is supported by the evidence, a federal judge in Florida ruled June 18 (Karen Lennox v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No 3:09-cv-13744, M.D. Fla.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on June 18 denied a motion for summary judgment filed by a woman and the Florida Wildlife Federation, ruling that the plaintiffs must explain why the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's failure to respond to their petition seeking revisions to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's anti-degradation water quality standards requires the federal agency to make a necessity determination or provide an adequate explanation for denying the petition (Florida Wildlife Federation v. Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 14-cv-3204, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79176).
MIAMI - A Florida state court jury awarded $776,000 June 18 to the widow of a man who died of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) after more than 50 years of smoking (Joyce Hardin, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 07-46973-CA-22, Fla. 11th Jud. Cir., Miami-Dade Co.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on June 17 reversed and remanded a lower court's ruling as to taxable court costs in a coverage dispute over damages sustained to the insured's condominium by leaking fluids from a decomposing body (Judy Rodrigo v. State Farm Florida Ins. Co., No. 4D13-3393, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 9263).
MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on June 17 found that a lower court erred when it compelled appraisal of an insured's supplemental Hurricane Wilma claim because the insured did not comply with his post-loss obligations under the policy, reversing and remanding (State Farm Florida Insurance Co. v. Alfredo Hernandez, No. 3D13-2263, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 9215).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey on June 17 announced that Norbulk Shipping UK Ltd., the operator of the M/V Murcia Carrier, was fined $750,000 for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) by making false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard about the dumping of 20 barrels containing hydraulic oil into international waters off the coast of Florida while the vessel was in transit from Costa Rica to New Jersey.
TAMPA, Fla. - A testing exclusion precludes coverage for an insured's alleged negligence in the performance of a roof test on a condominium building, a Florida federal judge ruled June 17 (Driggers Engineering Services Inc. v. CNA Financial Corp. and Valley Forge Insurance Co., No. 14-3155, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 78559).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Justice announced June 16 that a Florida-based skilled nursing facility, its former president and executive director and its subsidiaries have agreed to pay $17 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act (FCA) and Anti-Kickback Statute by improperly paying doctors for their referrals of Medicare patients to the defendants' facilities (United States of America, ex. rel. Stephen M. Beaujon v. Hebrew Homes Health Network Inc., et al., No. 12-cv-20951, S.D. Fla.).