LAKELAND, Fla. - Because the standard in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc. (509 U.S. 579 ) regarding the admissibility of expert testimony does not change the long-established rule that lay persons can identify marijuana based on their personal experience and knowledge, a Florida appeals panel on May 25 affirmed a juvenile's conviction for possession of marijuana (R.C. v. State of Florida, No. 2D15-1738, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 8107).
BARTOW, Fla. - A Florida jury on May 16 awarded the widow of a smoker $6 million after finding that he relied on statements made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. about the harmfulness of smoking the cigarettes it manufactured (Marlene Nally v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2007CA-007627, Fla. Cir., 10th Jud. Cir., Polk Co.).
ORLANDO, Fla. - An insured's expert may not testify on his regulatory or legislative experience regarding procurement of insurance, a Florida federal judge ruled May 11 (American K-9 Detection Services, Inc. and American K-9 Detection Services LLC v. Rutherford International, Inc. and Sara Payne, No. 14-1988, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62279).
SARASOTA, Fla. - A Florida jury on May 12 awarded a widower $30,000 in punitive damages a day after finding that the deceased relied to her detriment on statements made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. which ultimately led to her death, bringing the total award to $12,030,000 (George Dion v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 13CA5673, Fla. Cir., 12th Jud. Cir., Sarasota Co.).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on May 11 reversed and remanded a lower court's ruling in favor of a homeowners insurer in a sinkhole coverage dispute, noting that the lower court did not have the benefit of three key rulings when it granted the insurer's motion for summary judgment (James Case and Rhonda Case v. Tower Hill Prime Insurance Co., No. 2D15-2225, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 7113).
SARASOTA, Fla. - A Florida jury on May 11 found that a woman relied to her detriment on statements made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. about the healthfulness of cigarettes, which ultimately caused her death, and awarded her husband $12 million in compensatory damages (George Dion v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 13CA5673, Fla. Cir., 12th Jud. Cir., Sarasota Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Florida vaping and e-cigarette distributor on May 10 filed suit against the Food and Drug Administration in a District of Columbia federal court, claiming that a new rule that expands the FDA's power under the Tobacco Control Act will cost it millions of dollars in revenue and is overly burdensome because it would restrict the sale of the company's products (Nicopure Labs LLC v. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 1:16-cv-00878. D. D.C.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A federal bankruptcy judge in Florida on May 6 denied a group of investors' motions to dismiss a suit brought by the bankruptcy trustee of an insolvent insurer alleging a fraudulent $33.4 million stock transfer (Soneet R. Kapila, as Chapter 11 Trustee of Universal Health Care Group, Inc. v. Warburg Pincus, LLC, et al., No. 8:15-ap-132-KRM, M.D. Fla. Bkcy.; 2016 Bankr. LEXIS 1957).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - In a May 9 brief in Florida federal court, two former legal assistants, who are defendants in a computer fraud lawsuit, argue that sanctions are not merited for their failure to keep smartphones they owned at the time they purportedly hacked into their former employer's email system, contending that they did not act willfully or in bad faith (Goldstein Law Group P.A. v. Leviette Machado, et al., No. 0:15-cv-61145, S.D. Fla.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A woman who won an Engle progeny verdict against Philip Morris USA Inc. asked a federal judge in Florida on May 2 to deny the tobacco company's motion to stay her motion to reinstate her punitive damages award, saying it would be "needlessly cruel" to stay her 20-year-old case (Judith Berger v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 3:09-cv-14157, M.D. Fla.).
OCALA, Fla. - The former owner of several compounding pharmacies, including the one at the center of the Brilliant Blue G contamination outbreak, on April 29 agreed to a permanent injunction in Florida federal court requiring it to notify the Food and Drug Administration if he ever starts compounding drugs again (United States of America v. Paul W. Franck, No. 16-85, M.D. Fla., Ocala Div.).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on April 29 reversed a lower court's final judgment in favor of insureds in a sinkhole coverage dispute to the extent that it awarded money damages for subsurface repairs without requiring the insureds to enter into a contract for those repairs, further reversing the court's prejudgment interest award (Citizens Property Insurance Corp. v. Migdalia Cabrera, et al., No. 2D14-4337, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 6529).
PALM BEACH, Fla. - A jury in Florida on April 27 awarded the widow of a smoker who died from lung cancer $12.5 million in punitive damages, bringing the total award to the family to $33.5 million (Purdo v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2007CA024173, Fla. Cir., 15th Jud. Cir., Palm Beach Co.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on April 26 vacated a default judgment against an insured subcontractor in an insurer's declaratory judgment action, citing the involvement of multiple defendant parties also named in an underlying construction defect case (Southern Owners Insurance Co. v. Gallo Building Services, Inc., et al., No. 15-01440, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55572).
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A trial judge erred in allowing a physician's assistant to testify as an expert on the need and cost for a future surgery, a Florida appeals panel held April 22, reversing a $166,000 jury verdict entered against an insurer and remanding for a new trial on damages (State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. William Long, Nos. 5D14-3704 & 5D15-1749, Fla. App., 5th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 6148).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on April 18 partially granted and partially denied motions to dismiss a proposed class complaint accusing a mortgage servicer and an insurer of engaging in a kickback scheme where borrowers were overcharged for "force-placed" insurance (John C. Sekula, et al. v. Residential Credit Solutions, Inc., et al., No. 15-2104, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51636).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on April 15 remanded an insurance bad faith lawsuit to state court, ruling that insureds failed to plead an injury in fact in making their claims against an insurer over its handling of claims in a third-party lawsuit (Wright Insurance Agency Inc. v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co., No. 15-1857, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50975).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel held April 13 that because an insured did not intend to cause an injury or break state law by placing automated solicitation telephone calls, a lower court did not err in finding that the calls constituted an "occurrence" triggering coverage under a general liability insurance policy (Old Dominion Insurance Co. v. Stellar Concepts & Design Inc., et al., No. 4D14-4601, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 5608).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on April 13 reversed a lower court's final judgment to the extent that it awarded insureds monetary damages for subsurface repairs without requiring them to enter into a contract for those repairs in a sinkhole coverage dispute (Citizens Property Insurance Corp. v. Niurka Simoneau, et al., No. 2D14-4183, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 5551).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on April 11 granted in part and denied in part an insurer's motion to dismiss in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, ruling that dismissal of an insured's breach of fiduciary duty claim is proper because it is duplicative of the insured's other bad faith claims (Janis Braddy v. Infinity Assurance Insurance Co., No. 15-119, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48565).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on April 12 found that a trial court erred by not entering a stay of final judgment in a tobacco case because the tobacco company had begun to exercise its right to seek a further review of the case by the U.S. Supreme Court (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Janice L. Sikes, as personal representative for the estate of Jimmie Wayne Sikes, No. 1D13-3183, Fla. App., 1st Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 5539).
OCALA, Fla. - A widow lacks sufficiently precise allegations about who, how and when three defendants misrepresented the safety of talc and auto-body filler she claims contained asbestos, a Florida judge held April 8 in dismissing claims without prejudice (Carmen Viera, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC, et al., No. 16-1, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47787).