TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After a Florida jury awarded the husband of a woman who died from lung cancer related to cigarette smoking $3 million in compensatory damages on March 28, the attorneys for the widow and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on April 3 came to a confidential settlement over punitive damages before the jury had a chance to deliberate (James Whitmire v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2015-CA-002337, Fla. 2nd Jud. Cir. Leon Co.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An insurer's declaratory judgment action against an insured contractor and a condominium association regarding the duty to indemnify an underlying construction defects suit is premature, a Florida federal judge ruled March 31, staying rather than dismissing the action pending the outcome of the underlying suit (Mid-Continent Casualty Co. v. Nassau Builders Inc., et al., No. 16-921, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48526).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A jury in Florida on March 31 found that three tobacco companies contributed to the addiction, lung cancer and death of a woman and awarded her husband $1.6 million in compensatory damages (Charles Santoro v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CV-025807, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Because certain circumstances regarding a disability claimant's move to Florida may be relevant to a claim for total disability benefits, a Florida federal judge on March 29 determined that a disability insurer is entitled to information regarding the claimant's real estate transactions (Mark Goodman v. Security Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York, No. 16-81742, S.D. Fla.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45966).
MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on March 28 found that a dispute over a charter party agreement should be compelled to arbitration but denied the motion until the parties could agree as to where the arbitration should be conducted (Internaves De Mexico, s.a. de C.V. v. Andromeda Steamship Corporation, et al., No. 16-81719, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46507).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on March 29 denied three motions to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Government Employees Insurance Co. (GEICO) accusing five windshield repair companies and their owners of engaging in a scheme to submit fraudulent claims for repairs, finding that the company's insureds are not indispensable parties to the action and that the insurer sufficiently stated claims under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act, Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) and fraud (Government Employees Insurance Company v. Clear Vision Windshield Repair, LLC, et al., No. 16-cvc-2077-Orl-28TBS, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47353).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on March 28 adopted a magistrate's report that recommended staying the portion of a professional liability insurer's declaratory judgment lawsuit that disputes it duty to indemnify its property management firm insured pending the resolution of underlying theft and conversion claims against the insured and its directors and officers (Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company v. Stazac Management, Inc., et al., No. 16-369, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44983).
MIAMI - An insurance policy's water exclusion precludes payment to insureds for water damage and other repairs stemming from their collapsed and backed-up pipe, a Florida federal judge ruled March 28, granting summary judgment to the insurer (Ken Cameron and Michelle Cameron v. Scottsdale Insurance Co., No. 16-21704, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45474).
TAMPA, Fla. - A couple can amend a lawsuit claiming that defects in the construction of their home allowed for mold growth that led to the death of their daughter to include the general contractor who built the home, a federal judge in Florida ruled March 28 (Rohan B. Goldson, et al. v. KB Home, et al., No. 17-cv-340-T-24 AEP, M.D. Fla.).
PENSACOLA, Fla. - Allowing expert testimony on the cause of flooding to neighborhoods but excluding testimony on damages due to an error in methodology, a Florida federal judge on March 25 simultaneously granted homeowners class certification on the issue of liability and granted summary judgment to a paper mill company as to classwide stigma damages (John Navelski, et al. v. International Paper Co., No. 14-445, N.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44411).
MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on March 22 held that an insured's post-appraisal submission of increased costs in a Hurricane Wilma coverage dispute is not a legally sufficient basis to reopen the existing appraisal or conduct a new appraisal (Orlando Noa v. Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, No. 3D16-1367, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 3787).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A majority of a Florida appeals court on March 20 affirmed a lower court's ruling that an insurer's quarterly supplemental reporting (QUASR) data satisfies the definition of trade secret under state law and is, therefore, exempt from public disclosure (Office of Insurance Regulation v. State Farm Florida Ins. Co., No. 1D16-2301, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 3662).
TAMPA, Fla. - A couple claiming that the defective construction of their home allowed for water infiltration and mold growth that led to the death of their daughter can amend their allegations that the home builder violated the Florida Building Code and engaged in fraud, a federal judge in Florida ruled March 17 in granting in part the builder's motion to dismiss (Rohan B. Goldson, et al. v. KB Home, et al., No. 17-cv-340-T-24 AEP, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38426).
MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on March 13 compelled arbitration of a sous chef's injury-related claims against the owner of a ship, finding that they directly related to an underlying mandatory arbitration provision in her employment contract but remanded her claims against another vessel owner to a state court for lack of jurisdiction (Linnea Wexler v. Solemates Marine Ltd., et al., No. 16-cv-62704, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36376).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Seven former felons filed a class complaint on March 13 in Florida federal court against the Florida governor and members of the Executive Clemency Board, alleging that the state's disenfranchisement and re-enfranchisement laws "have made the process of voting rights restoration unconstitutionally arbitrary" (James Michael Hand, et al. v. Rick Scott, et al., No. 17-128, N.D. Fla.).
MIAMI - A Florida federal magistrate judge on March 13 abated a plaintiff's bad faith claim on the basis that the bad faith claim is premature and cannot be adjudicated until after there has been a determination that the insurer breached its contract of insurance (Southeast Distributors Inc. v. United Specialty Insurance Co., No. 16-24549, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35453).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - In a March 14 motion in Florida federal court, New York media firm Buzzfeed Inc. seeks dismissal of a defamation lawsuit over its January online publication of an article over purported Russian attempts to hack the Democratic National Committee (DNC), asserting a lack of jurisdiction because the dispute "has nothing to do with Florida" (Aleksej Gubarev, et al. v. Buzzfeed Inc., et al., No. 0:17-cv-60426, S.D. Fla.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on March 13 rejected a professional liability insurer's argument that a breach of contract lawsuit brought by the insured's assignees is barred by a five-year statute of limitations, denying the insurer's motion to dismiss (Mark Chapman, et al. v. ACE American Insurance Co., No: 16-2111, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35347).
TAMPA, Fla. - Reconsideration of a federal district court's ruling to grant an insurer a new trial in an insurance bad faith lawsuit is not warranted because an insured's reference to another insurer's claims handling for a bodily injury claim was not relevant and not properly considered by a jury, a federal judge in Florida ruled March 13 in denying the insured's motion for reconsideration (Joshua Moore v. GEICO General Insurance Co., No. 13-1569, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35136).
MIAMI - A retail grocery was not fraudulently joined in an asbestos case because allegations regarding what it should have known sufficiently support a negligence action, a federal judge in Florida held in remanding the case on March 10 (Andrienne Fransas v. Brenntag North America Inc., et al., No. 17-80058, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35545).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A stucco remediation expert's methodology for calculating the cost to repair homes made by Pulte Home Corp. that have improperly installed stucco is not reliable or relevant, a federal judge in Florida ruled March 10 in granting the builder's motion to exclude the testimony (Shaun Gazzara, et al. v. Pulte Home Corporation, No. 16-cv-657-Orl-31TBS, M.D. Fla.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A plaintiff in an Engle progeny suit on March 8 moved for an extension of time to file a motion for a rehearing, certification, or a written opinion following an order from the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal that affirmed a defense verdict in a tobacco trial, according the online docket (Dorothy Haliburton v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 4D15-1819, Fla. App. 4th Dist.).