MIAMI - An insured's suit seeking a declaration that coverage is owed for water damage to his home was removed to Florida federal court on Aug. 14 by the insurer on the basis that the amount in controversy satisfies the federal jurisdictional amount in controversy (Romeo Alcantara v. American Security Insurance Co., No. 17-23077, S.D. Fla.).
ATLANTA - Calling it "an unfortunate case," an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 11 affirmed the dismissal of a federal mortgage lending complaint, noting that under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, it was prevented from reviewing Florida courts' erroneous prior rulings upholding the foreclosure of the homeowners' property (Sherone Waisome, et al. v. JP Morgan Chase Bank NA, et al., No. 16-16531, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 14927).
TAMPA, Fla. - A man sued the builder of his Gibsonton, Fla., home in Florida state court on Aug. 7, claiming that the stucco installed on his home did not satisfy the Florida Building Code or American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards, resulting in water intrusion and damage (Aaron Kater v. KB Home Tampa LLC, No. 2017-CA-007387, Fla. Cir., Hillsborough Co.).
TAMPA, Fla. - On remand from the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a Florida federal judge on Aug. 8 found that although the number of hours spent pursuing copyright infringement claims was "excessively high," a plaintiff was nonetheless entitled to an award of $1.1 million in attorney fees (Yellow Pages Photos Inc. v. Ziplocal LP, et al., No. 12-755, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125028).
MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on Aug. 9 held that a professional liability insurance policy's prior-knowledge exclusion relieves the insurer of its duty to defend and indemnify an underlying negligence lawsuit brought against its attorney insured (David R. Farbstein, P.A., et al. v. Westport Insurance Corporation, et al., No. 16-62361, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125990).
MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on Aug. 9 affirmed without discussion a lower court's ruling in favor of an insurer in a lawsuit arising from the insured's alleged property damage caused by Hurricane Wilma (Waterview Condominium Association, Inc. v. Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Nos. 3D15-1760 and 3D15-2088, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.).
TAMPA, Fla. - Denying an automobile insurer's motion for summary judgment in a bad faith lawsuit, a Florida federal judge on Aug. 4 held that a jury could find that the insurer did not handle a bodily injury claim with the same degree of care that it would have used to handle its own affairs (Richard Soricelli v. GEICO Indemnity Co., No. 16-1535, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122950).
NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. - A man filed a lawsuit in Florida state court on Aug. 1 claiming that the improper installation of stucco on his home by the builder and a number of subcontractors caused moisture intrusion that decreased the value of the property and caused damage (Eugenio Lora v. Lennar Homes, et al., No. 2017-CA-002453, Fla. Cir., Pasco Co.).
MIAMI - After finding that the filing of a foreclosure action did not constitute the activity of debt collection under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), a Florida federal judge on July 31 granted a loan servicer's motion to dismiss a borrower's claim against it (Roberto Calarese, et al. v. Bayview Loan Servicing LLC, No. 17-60747, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120782).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - After finding that a man who died from laryngeal cancer was addicted to cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., a Florida jury on July 28 awarded his widow $4 million in damages (Bertie Thomas v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2007-CV-036432, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).
MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on July 26 held that it lacks jurisdiction to hear a homeowners insurer's appeal of a Hurricane Wilma coverage dispute, dismissing the appeal (Gulfstream Property & Casualty Insurance Co. v. David Coley, No. 3D16-885, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 10651).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - After finding that a Brazilian company's attempt to enforce a $14 million award falls within the scope of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and not Florida law, a Florida federal judge refused to remand the case to a state court (Kozma Investmentos, Ltda. v. Edson Pereira Duda, et al., No. 2:17-cv-306, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117728).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A defendant's allegation regarding the plaintiff's citizenship based only "upon information and belief" is insufficient for removal under the Class Action Fairness Act, a Florida federal judge ruled July 25 (Frank Ayers v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, et al., No. 17-1265, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115829).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida jury on July 25 found in favor of Philip Morris USA Inc. after finding that a man who died from lung cancer was not addicted to cigarettes made by Philip Morris and that his lung cancer and death was not caused by an addiction to those cigarettes (Judith Pearson v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2007-CA-017823, Fla. 13th Jud. Cir. Hillsborough Co.).
GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. - A man filed suit in Florida state court on July 24 against the builder of his home, claiming that the company as well as the painting and stucco subcontractors it hired are liable for damage to his home caused by an improperly installed stucco system (Saulo O. Meneses v. KB Home Jacksonville LLC, No. 2017-CA-743, Fla. Cir., Clay Co.).
ORLANDO, Fla. - Pulte Home Corp. moved for summary judgment in Florida federal court on July 21, arguing that purchasers of homes with stucco that was improperly installed are not entitled to damages because they knew of the defect at the time they purchased their homes (Shaun Gazzara, et al. v. Pulte Home Corporation, No. 16-cv-657-Orl-31TBS, M.D. Fla.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida woman filed a lawsuit in state court against the builder of her home on July 20, claiming that the stucco on the home was improperly applied in violation of the Florida Building Code (Tammy Marie Sullivan v. Pulte Home Corporation, No. 17-CA-006860, Fla. Cir., Hillsborough Co.).
MIAMI - An insurer's exclusion of wilderness treatment programs is not a blanket bar, but is based on the frequent failure of those facilities to meet certain general coverage criteria, and thus does not violate federal law by treating mental health coverage differently from more general treatments, a federal judge in Florida held July 20 in dismissing ERISA claims (Steven Welp, et al. v. Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-80237, S.D. Fla.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Fourth District of the Florida Court of Appeal panel on July 19 found that a hotel did not breach its duty to protect a couple when a drunken driver drove through a poolside cabana, injuring the man and killing his wife; the panel remanded the suit with instructions to the trial court to grant the hotel's motion for a directed verdict and vacate the $3.6 million award against it (The Las Olas Holding Company v. Michael Demella, No. 4D16-231, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 10445).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - In a retrial of an Engle progeny suit, a Florida jury on July 18 found that a woman's lung cancer and death were caused by her addiction to cigarettes and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s failure to warn her about the dangers of smoking and awarded her husband $1.65 million (John Maloney v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 07-CA-015578, Fla. 20th Jud. Cir., Lee Co.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida jury on July 18 found in favor of Ford Motor Co. Inc. in a suit in which the plaintiff claimed that the automaker negligently installed an air bag with a manufacturing defect that caused a fatal car crash (Ramon Llera v. Ford Motor Co. Inc., No. 2005CA001924, Fla. 15th Jud. Cir., Palm Beach Co.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on July 17 declined to strike testimony from an insurer's biomechanical expert on the forces required to cause a woman's alleged injuries in a rear-end car accident, finding that the expert meets the admissibility standards established by 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals precedent (Lisa N. Bostick v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, No. 8:16-cv-1400, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110370).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A panel of the Florida Second District Court of Appeal on July 14 affirmed a $14 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit without explanation and certified a conflict with another suit over comparative fault (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Ina E. Ahrens, No. 2D16-1651, Fla. App., 2nd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 10146).