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Mealey's Banking & Finance - Federal Judge Refuses To Dismiss Title Insurer From Professional Liability Dispute

FORT MYERS, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Sept. 22 denied a title insurer's motion to dismiss a professional liability insurer's declaratory judgment claim against it in a dispute arising from allegations that a title company failed to uncover certain defects in the title of a real property (Houston Specialty Insurance Co. v. Titleworks of Southwest Florida Inc., et al., No. 15-219, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126780).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge: Lawyer Is Unqualified To Testify On Insurance Claims-Handling Process

MIAMI - A lawyer's expertise in insurance law does not match the type of expertise needed to render an expert opinion on the internal standards for handling an insurance claim, a Florida federal judge ruled Sept. 23, excluding the lawyer's testimony in an insurance bad faith lawsuit (Frank Lopez, as personal representative of the Estate of Giraldo Lopez, and Magaly Nunez Delgado, individually and as assignee of Michelle Soto v. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Co., No. 14-20654, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127495).

Mealey's Insurance - Federal Judge Refuses To Dismiss Title Insurer From Professional Liability Dispute

FORT MYERS, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Sept. 22 denied a title insurer's motion to dismiss a professional liability insurer's declaratory judgment claim against it in a dispute arising from allegations that a title company failed to uncover certain defects in the title of a real property (Houston Specialty Insurance Co. v. Titleworks of Southwest Florida Inc., et al., No. 15-219, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126780).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Florida Supreme Court Denies R.J. Reynolds' Petition On Engle Class Status Issue

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Sept. 24 denied a petition for writ of certiorari filed by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR), which had sought review of a lower court's decision finding that a smoker suing the company was entitled to inclusion as a member of a class pursuant to the Engle class (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Ralph Ballard, No. SC15-1025, Fla. Sup.; 2015 Fla. LEXIS 2052).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Judge: Lawyer Is Unqualified To Testify On Insurance Claims-Handling Process

MIAMI - A lawyer's expertise in insurance law does not match the type of expertise needed to render an expert opinion on the internal standards for handling an insurance claim, a Florida federal judge ruled Sept. 23, excluding the lawyer's testimony in an insurance bad faith lawsuit (Frank Lopez, as personal representative of the Estate of Giraldo Lopez, and Magaly Nunez Delgado, individually and as assignee of Michelle Soto v. Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Co., No. 14-20654, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127495).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Florida Jury Rules Cigarette Makers Not Liable For Addiction, Lung Cancer

MIAMI - A jury in Florida on Sept. 22 delivered a defense verdict in a lawsuit brought by a woman who contended that the manufacturers of cigarettes were liable for her husband's death from lung cancer, which she said was caused by his addiction to smoking. The plaintiff had sought between $34,737,000 and $50,676,600 in damages (Teresa Suarez, as the representative of the Estate of Pio Suarez, v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al., No. 2009-79584-CA-01, Fla. 11th Jud. Cir., Dade Co.).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Judge: Expert's Opinion On Causation Of Insured's Motor Vehicle Injuries Is Unreliable

ORLANDO, Fla. - An insured seeking uninsured motorist (UM) benefits failed to show that his expert's testimony on causation is based on sufficient facts and data or that it is the product of a reliable methodology, a Florida federal judge ruled Sept. 18 (William Scott Carmody v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. 14-830, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125056).

Mealey's Labor & Employment - Adventist Agrees To Pay More Than $118M To Settle Kickback Allegations

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Notices of settlement among the U.S. Justice Department, Florida and North Carolina and Adventist Health System-Sunbelt Inc. were filed Sept. 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina stating that Adventist will pay more than $118 million to settle a whistle-blower lawsuit, claims first brought to light by three former employees, alleging that it overpaid doctors to lock in patient referrals (Untied States of America, et al. v. Adventist Health System-Sunbelt, Inc., et al., Nos. 12-856 and 13-217, W.D. N.C.).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge Orders Final Discharge Of Insolvent Insurer's Liquidation

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Florida judge on Sept. 15 granted the Florida Department of Financial Services' (FDFS) motion to authorize it to end the liquidation proceeding of an insurer placed into liquidation in 2014 (State of Florida, ex rel., the Department of Financial Services of the State of Florida v. Union American Insurance Co., No. 2005-323, Fla. Cir., Leon Co.).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Widow Says Evidence Meets Jones Act Standard, Supports $10.3M Verdict

MIAMI - A Florida appeals court should reinstate a $10.3 million asbestos verdict because evidence of significant quantities of asbestos installed on cruise ships a man spent years living aboard meets the "featherweight burden" in Jones Act cases, a widow argues in a Sept. 14 opening brief (Giovanna Settimi Caraffa, et al. v. Carnival Cruise Lines, No. 3D 15-356, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.).

Mealey's Labor & Employment - Widow Says Evidence Meets Jones Act Standard, Supports $10.3M Verdict

MIAMI - A Florida appeals court should reinstate a $10.3 million asbestos verdict because evidence of significant quantities of asbestos installed on cruise ships a man spent years living aboard meets the "featherweight burden" in Jones Act cases, a widow argues in a Sept. 14 opening brief (Giovanna Settimi Caraffa, et al. v. Carnival Cruise Lines, No. 3D 15-356, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Judge: Failure To Respond To Defense Motion Grounds For Immediate Dismissal

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on Sept. 12 dismissed a case brought by a Florida man who alleges that a cigarette manufacturer is responsible for diseases from which he suffers, ruling that his failure to respond to the defendant's motion to dismiss was grounds for immediate dismissal (Jonathan Henry v. Lorillard Tobacco Corp., No. 14-511, N.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122914).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Widow Says Evidence Meets Jones Act Standard, Supports $10.3M Verdict

MIAMI - A Florida appeals court should reinstate a $10.3 million asbestos verdict because evidence of significant quantities of asbestos installed on cruise ships a man spent years living aboard meets the "featherweight burden" in Jones Act cases, a widow argues in a Sept. 14 opening brief (Giovanna Settimi Caraffa, et al. v. Carnival Cruise Lines, No. 3D 15-356, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Judge Denies Exclusion Of Experts In Trademark Infringement Lawsuit

TAMPA, Fla. - At a bench trial, parties in a trademark infringement lawsuit can argue as to the reliability and helpfulness of experts' testimony, a Florida federal judge ruled Sept. 11, denying a motion to exclude and denying summary judgment on a breach of contract claim (One Hour Air Conditioning Franchising, LLC v. Dallas Unique Indoor Comfort, Ltd., No. 13-3278, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121263).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Jury Awards Family $12 Million In Lung Cancer Verdict

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A Florida jury on Sept. 11 awarded the family of a man who died of lung cancer $6 million in compensatory damages and a total of $6 million in punitive damages, finding that two tobacco companies were partially liable for the development of his disease (Martha Duignan v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., et al., No. 13-010978-CI, 6th Jud. Cir.).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Florida Jury Awards Ex-Smoker $4.5 Million, Apportions Liability

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida jury on Sept. 8 issued a $4.5 million verdict for a woman who alleged that her laryngeal and lung cancers were caused by cigarette smoking but found that she was 50 percent liable for the development of her cancers (Mary Cooper, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. CACE-08026350, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud. Cir.).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Judge: Expert Cannot Testify On Saw Manufacturer's Flesh-Detection Technology

ORLANDO, Fla. - An expert has not demonstrated any reliable basis on which he can opine on how long it would take for a saw manufacturer to incorporate flesh-detection technology into a consumer-ready benchtop table saw, a Florida federal judge ruled Sept. 3, excluding in part the expert's testimony (Erik Bruskotter v. Robert Bosch Tool Corp., No. 13-1841, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117664).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Judge: Expert Cannot Testify On Saw Manufacturer's Flesh-Detection Technology

ORLANDO, Fla. - An expert has not demonstrated any reliable basis on which he can opine on how long it would take for a saw manufacturer to incorporate flesh-detection technology into a consumer-ready benchtop table saw, a Florida federal judge ruled Sept. 3, excluding in part the expert's testimony (Erik Bruskotter v. Robert Bosch Tool Corp., No. 13-1841, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117664).

Mealey's Insurance - Florida Judge Says Partial Default Judgment Against Insurer Is Appropriate

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A partial default judgment entered against an insurer on an insured's bad faith claim in an environmental contamination coverage suit is an appropriate sanction because the insurer failed to produce requested documents until almost two years later, a Florida federal judge said Sept. 2 (First Coast Energy LLP v. Mid-Continent Casualty Co., No. 12-281, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117120).

Mealey's IP/Tech - Florida Federal Judge Slammed For Exercising Supplemental Jurisdiction

ATLANTA - In what it deemed an "extraordinary case predicated upon extraordinary legal theories," the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 3 found that a Florida federal judge abused her discretion in retaining supplemental jurisdiction over various state law claims after entering a consent decree mooting a federal false advertising claim (Ameritox Ltd. v. Millennium Laboratories Inc., No. 14-14281, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 15664.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Jury Awards $750,000 To Deceased Smoker's Husband Against R.J. Reynolds

CITY ISLAND, Fla. - A jury in Florida on Aug. 31 awarded $750,000 to a man who sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) alleging that the company was liable for the death of his wife because her addiction to cigarettes made by the company was the cause of her lung cancer. The jury found the company 25 percent liable (James Lewis, as the representative of the Estate of Rosemary Lewis v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. 2009 30058 CIC, Fla. Cir., 7th Jud. Cir.).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Florida Court Grants Petition, Finds Claim Arose Out Of Medical Care

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - In a majority ruling, a Florida appeals court on Aug. 28 granted a psychiatric hospital's petition for writ of certiorari of a trial court's decision to dismiss an estate's case against it, finding that the estate's allegations, which were related to the death of a patient, constituted an ordinary negligence claim (Shands Teaching Hospital and Clinics Inc., d/b/a Shands Vista v. The Estate of Ashley Lawson, by and through John Mark Lawson, No. 1D14-4675, Fla. App., 1st Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 12951).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Federal Judge Compels Arbitration Of Cruise Line Worker's Injury-Related Claims

MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on Aug. 31 granted a cruise line's motion to compel arbitration of a worker's injury-related claims, finding that the cruise line believed that it had already resolved his claims and that it did not waive its right to compel arbitration of the dispute (Gary Smith v. NCL Bahamas Ltd., dba Norwegian Cruise Lines, No. 15-22373, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115456).

Mealey's Banking & Finance - Judge Affirms Dismissal Of TILA And Other Claims Against Banks As Barred

MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on Aug. 25 rejected objections submitted by former property owners to a foreclosure, finding that their monetary damage claims under the Truth In Lending Act (TILA) were time-barred or barred by a state court foreclosure judgment (Mayra E. Farias, et al. v. U.S. Bank National Association, et al., No. 15-21827, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112528).

Mealey's Banking & Finance - Federal Judge Finds Foreclosure-Related Claims Lack Specificity

TAMPA, Fla. - After finding that a borrower's complaint lacked detail on the actual underlying mortgage transaction and that she failed to specify what claims she was asserting against the defendants in the case, a Florida federal judge on Aug. 26 dismissed the case in its entirety (James M. Sims, et al. v. Nation Star Mortgage, et al., No. 8:15-cv-1706, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113143).