ATLANTA - A federal judge in Florida did not err when finding that a man who pleaded guilty for his role in an insurance fraud scheme that involved fraudulently billing private insurance companies for services that were not provided was accountable for $31 million in intended losses, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of appeals ruled Oct. 18, holding that the defendant agreed in his plea agreement that his actions resulted in losses between $20 million and $50 million (United States of America v. Alejandro Jesus Cura, No. 15-15259, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18638).
MIAMI - A Florida appeals court on Oct. 19 affirmed a judge's ruling setting aside a $10.3 million Jones Act asbestos verdict against a cruise line (Giovanna Settimi Caraffa, et al. v. Carnival Cruise Lines, No. 3D 15-356, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Oct. 20 held that insureds' claim for sinkhole damage is governed by the definition of "covered claim'" in Section 631.54(3), Florida Statutes, that was effective May 17, 2011, affirming an appeals court's reversal of a lower court's order confirming a $130,600 appraisal award against the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) (Leandro de la Fuente, et al. v. FIGA, No. SC15-519, Fla. Sup.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A disability insurer correctly determined that a claimant was no longer eligible for long-term care disability benefits because it is clear from the evidence that the claimant no longer qualified for benefits under the policy's cognitive-impairment or functional-disability provisions, a Florida federal judge said Oct. 17 (David Carr v. John Hancock Life Insurance Co. [USA], No. 14-2867, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143050).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on Oct. 14 granted a property insurer's motion to enforce a mandate ordering a lower court to enter final judgment in its favor in a sinkhole coverage dispute (Florida Peninsula Insurance Co. v. Maricela Cespedes, No. 2D12-4575, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 15238).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - In a coverage dispute over water damage to an insured's kitchen, an insurer was wrongfully denied an opportunity to argue that it could repair the damaged property and that hiring a general contractor was unnecessary, a Florida appeals panel ruled Oct. 13, reversing a trial judge's entry of summary judgment to the insured (Prepared Insurance Co. v. David Gal, No. 4D15-1909, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 15181).
MIAMI - A Florida appellate panel on Oct.13 affirmed a defense verdict in an Engle progeny suit after finding that the trial judge did not err by including a question about Philip Morris USA Inc.'s fault on the verdict form over the plaintiff's objections (Jose Vila v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 3D15-1853, Fla. App. 3rd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 15126).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Finding no error in a Florida federal judge's determination of patent ineligibility under 35 U.S. Code Section 101, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 11 affirmed dismissal of a dispute over a fraud detection patent (FairWarning IP LLC v. Iatric Systems Inc., No. 15-1985, Fed. Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18313).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 11 denied a petition for writ of certiorari asking it to consider whether a party that is not an Employee Retirement Income Security Act plan participant, an ERISA beneficiary or a health care provider has standing to sue an insurer under ERISA for benefits (Gables Insurance Recovery Inc., as assignee of South Miami Chiropractic LLC, v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc., No. 16-64, U.S. Sup.).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Oct. 4 granted an insurer's motion to dismiss insureds' fraud claims in a dispute arising from roof damage caused by Hurricane Charley (Ida L. Cruz, et al. v. American Security Insurance Co., No. 16-1317, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 137548).
MIAMI - Efforts by 32 models to obtain, through discovery, the membership list of a defendant "swingers" club were unsuccessful on Oct. 3, when a Florida federal magistrate judge concluded that it remains unclear whether the requested information would assist the plaintiffs in determining the amount of damages available to them on their allegation that the club violated the Lanham Act (Jaime Faith Edmondson, et al. v. Velvet Lifestyles LLC, No. 15-24442, S.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136866).
ORLANDO, Fla. - D.R. Horton Inc. must respond to a subcontractor's request for information regarding other lawsuits the builder has been named a party in over allegedly defective stucco, after a federal magistrate judge in Florida on Oct. 3 ruled that the information is relevant (D.R. Horton Inc. v. H&H Stucco & Stone Inc., et al., No. 15-cv-2063-Orl-40TBS, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136603).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A majority of the Florida Supreme Court held Sept. 29 that an appellate court misapplied a statutory presumption of correctness and incorrectly found that another statute requires a showing of bad faith for an insured to recover attorney fees, quashing and remanding the appellate court's ruling in a sinkhole coverage dispute (Kathy Johnson v. Omega Insurance Co., No. SC14-2124, Fla. Sup.; 2016 Fla. LEXIS 2148).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on Oct. 3 granted a rare joint plaintiff-defense motion to centralize 42 federal Abilify lawsuits in a multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida (In Re: Abilify [Aripiprazole] Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2734, JPMDL).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Sept. 28 granted final approval of a $6.3 million settlement to be paid by Godiva Chocolatier Inc. in a class complaint accusing the chocolate retailer of unlawfully displaying more than the last five digits on some credit and debit card receipts between April 2013 and November 2015 (Dr. David S. Muransky, et al. v. Godiva Chocolatier, Inc., No. 15-60716, S.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133695).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida jury on Sept. 28 awarded the estate of a man who died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) $6.4 million after finding that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s role in a conspiracy among tobacco companies to hide the dangers of smoking led to the man's disease and death (Linda Prentice v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CA-000386, Fla. 4th Jud. Cir. Duval Co.).
MIAMI - A federal judge in Florida on Sept. 22 dismissed a handful of claims in a consolidated complaint against Toyota, partially granting and partially denying the automaker's motion to dismiss the second amended complaint in the Takata air bag multidistrict litigation but keeping the majority of the claims for trial (In re: Takata Airbag Products Liability Litigation, No. 15-02599-CIV-Moreno, MDL No. 5-2599, S.D. Fla.).
CLEVELAND - An Ohio federal judge on Sept. 21 issued a summary judgment ruling that leaves for a January jury trial the question of whether a Florida plaintiffs law firm breached its contract with an Ohio plaintiffs' law firm and owes it $1.3 million in referral fees for Prempro (hormone replacement therapy, or HRT) cases (Misny & Associates Co. v. Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, No. 15-681, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Div.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129239).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - After rejecting an expert's testimony that every exposure to asbestos substantially contributes to developing mesothelioma, a Florida appeals court on Sept. 14 granted a directed verdict to a gasket company and ordered a new trial for a tobacco company (Crane Co., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and Hollingsworth & Vose Co. v. Richard DeLisle and Aline DeLisle, Nos. 4D13-4351, 4D14-146, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).