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Mealey's Insurance - Insurer Sufficiently Pleaded Equitable Subrogation, Indemnity Claims, Panel Says

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - An insurer's sufficiently asserted third-party claims for equitable subrogation and common-law indemnity against a contractor for its alleged negligent role in water damage to insureds, a Florida appeals panel ruled July 31, also finding that the insurer should have been allowed to amend its negligence claim (Florida Peninsula Insurance Co. v. Ken Mullen Plumbing Inc., et al., No. 5D14-3480, Fla. App., 5th Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 11572).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Awards Summary Judgment To EPA Administrator Sua Sponte

TAMPA, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on July 28 awarded summary judgment sua sponte to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after finding that a woman and the Florida Wildlife Federation were unable to explain why the agency's delay in making a necessity determination or providing an adequate explanation for denying their petition seeking revisions to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (FDEP) anti-degradation water quality standards was unreasonable (Florida Wildlife Federation v. Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 14-cv-3204, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 98384).

Mealey's Banking & Finance - Federal Judge Dismisses RESPA And Damages Claims, Grants Leave To Amend

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on July 27 found that a borrower's claims for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) were valid but that her damages claims failed and that the case should be dismissed with leave to replead (Elina Zaychick v. Bank of America, N.A., No. 9:15-CV-80336, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 97514).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Florida Jury Hears Openings In Suit By Family Of Smoker Who Died Of Lung Cancer

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Trial got under way with opening statements on July 22 in a suit alleging that a woman's death from lung cancer was caused by her 52 years of smoking cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Lillian Kaplan v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 08-19469, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Agency Says It Should Be Dropped From Volatile Organic Compounds Case

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) on July 21 filed a brief in Florida federal court opposing a farm trust's motion seeking to correct its second amended complaint in a lawsuit in which it alleges that a group of chemical companies contaminated the trust's property with volatile organic compounds (Noel D. Clark Jr., et al. v. Ashland Inc., No. 13-794, M.D. Fla.).

Mealey's Insurance - Panel Dismisses Insurer's Appeal Because Order Did Not Address Duty To Indemnify

LAKELAND, Fla. - A partial final judgment determining an insurer's duty to defend an insured against construction defect claims under certain policy periods but not the insurer's duty to indemnify is not a final appealable order, a Florida appeals panel held July 24 (Florida Farm Bureau General Insurance Co. v. Peacock's Excavating Service Inc., et al., No. 2D14-977, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 11205).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Florida Jury Returns $14.5M Verdict For Woman With Oral Cavity Cancer

MIAMI - A Florida state court jury awarded $14.5 million July 23 to a woman who alleged that her oral cavity cancer was caused by her 30 years of smoking cigarettes manufactured by Philip Morris USA Inc. (Carmenza Merino v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 08-1287-CA-25, Fla. 11th Jud. Cir., Miami-Dade Co).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge: 'Owned Property' Exclusion Bars Insurance Coverage For Defect Claims

ORLANDO, Fla. - The "owned property" exclusion precludes an insurer's duty to defend and indemnify an underlying settlement reached regarding construction defect claims in a condominium complex, a Florida federal judge ruled July 23 (Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. Cypress Fairway Condominium Association Inc., et al., No. 13-1565, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96196).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Florida Appeals Court Upholds Amendments To Medical Malpractice Statute

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Amendments to the medical malpractice presuit notice sections of Florida Statutes Sections 766.106 and 766.1065 are constitutional and are not preempted by federal law, the First District Florida Court of Appeal ruled July 21 (Emma Gayle Weaver, et al. v. Stephen C. Myers, et al., No. 1D14-3178, Fla. App., 1st Dist.).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Takata, Auto Manufacturers Move To Dismiss Complaints In Air Bag Litigation

MIAMI - Takata Corp. and seven auto manufacturers filed separate motions on July 17 to dismiss the second amended complaint filed by economic loss plaintiffs in the multidistrict air bag litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida (In re: Takata Airbag Products Liability Litigation, No. 15-02599-CIV-Moreno, MDL No. 15-2599, S.D. Fla.).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge: Negligent Supply Of Information Not Cause Of Insureds' Property Damage

ORLANDO, Fla. - A condominium association's claim of negligent supply of information was not the cause of insureds' faulty construction that resulted in water intrusion and other property damage, a Florida federal judge ruled July 20, granting summary judgment to an insurer with regard to the claim (St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. v. Cypress Fairway Condominium Association Inc., et al., No. 13-1088, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94012).

Mealey's IP/Tech - 11th Circuit Affirms Post-Judgment Orders In Trademark Case

ATLANTA - A Florida federal judge's adoption of a Florida federal magistrate judge's recommendation that a plaintiff be awarded $600,000 in liquidated damages, as well as attorney fees, as a sanction for a defendant's "egregious" disregard of a final consent order was affirmed July 16 by the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Blanco GmbH + Co. KG v. Vito Antonio Laera, et al., No. 14-11814, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12265).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Florida Appeals Court Bars Judge From Considering Post-Trial Motions, Cites Bias

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The plaintiff in a Engle-progeny suit that resulted in a $4 million verdict has demonstrated that she has "an objectively reasonable basis to fear that she will not receive fair review" of pending post-trial motions because of hostility between the trial judge and a member of the plaintiff's legal team, a Florida appeals panel ruled July 15 (Debra Perrotto, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 4D14-4943, Fla. App. 4th Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 10777).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Florida Jury Adds $9M Punitive Award To $1.5M In Compensatory Damages

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on July 17 awarded $9 million in punitive damages - $3 million each against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Philip Morris USA Inc. and Lorillard Tobacco Co. - to the widower of a woman who died of lung cancer after years of smoking (John McCoy, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CV-025806 [19], Fla. 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.).

Mealey's Health Law - 11th Circuit Upholds Pharmacy Owner's 144-Month Sentence For Fraud

ATLANTA - An 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 15 found no error in a federal judge in Florida's decision to sentence a pharmacy owner to 144 months in prison, ruling that the judge did not err when finding that the defendant's fraudulent billing of prescription medication to Medicare resulted in an intended loss of $2.5 million to the government and that the evidence supported the defendant's conviction for conspiracy to commit health care fraud (United States of America v. Guido Halayn De La Torre, No. 13-15179, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12179).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Compounding Pharmacy Pays $8.4M To Resolve False Claims To Federal Programs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida-based compounding pharmacy has agreed to pay $8,441,107 to resolve allegations that it knowingly billed the federal government for "improper and medically unnecessary compounding pain prescriptions," the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida announced July 15.

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Florida Court Vacates $2.5M Award In Engle Case, Cites Third-Party Settlement

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A prior settlement agreement with a third party bars strict liability and negligence claims against two tobacco companies arising from the lung cancer death of a longtime smoker, a Florida appeals court ruled July 15 (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Beatrice Skolnick, No. 4D13-4696, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).

Mealey's Insurance - 11th Circuit Upholds Pharmacy Owner's 144-Month Sentence For Fraud

ATLANTA - An 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 15 found no error in a federal judge in Florida's decision to sentence a pharmacy owner to 144 months in prison, ruling that the judge did not err when finding that the defendant's fraudulent billing of prescription medication to Medicare resulted in an intended loss of $2.5 million to the government and that the evidence supported the defendant's conviction for conspiracy to commit health care fraud (United States of America v. Guido Halayn De La Torre, No. 13-15179, 11th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 12179).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Farm Trust: Motion To Dismiss Groundwater Contamination Case Must Be Denied

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The farm trust that alleges that a group of chemical companies contaminated the trust's property with volatile organic compounds filed a brief on July 13 in Florida federal court, arguing that the claims against two defendants who are employees of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) are valid because they are being sued for acts allegedly committed outside their official employment responsibilities with the FDEP (Noel D. Clark Jr., et al. v. Ashland Inc., No. 13-794, M.D. Fla.).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Florida Jury Awards $13M To Family Of Smoker Who Died Of Oral Cancer

MIAMI - A Florida state court jury on July 13 awarded $8.5 million to the family of a woman who died of oral cancer after years of smoking cigarettes manufactured by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Paul Larkin, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2002-002829-CA, Fla. 11th Jud. Cir., Miami-Dade Co.).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Florida Jury Awards $1.5M To Smoker's Widower, Begins Considering Punitive Damages

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on July 13 awarded $1.5 million to the widower of a woman who died of lung cancer after years of smoking (John McCoy, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2008-CV-025806 (19), Fla. 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.).

Mealey's Labor & Employment - Federal Judge Compels Cruise Line Workers To Arbitrate Injury Claims

MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on July 10 granted a motion to compel claims asserted by an onboard medical officer who was allegedly injured while working on a cruise ship, finding the claims subject to an arbitration agreement in her employment contract (Brenda K. Ringewald v. Holland America Line - USA Inc., et al., No. 1:15-cv-20254, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89758).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Federal Judge Compels Cruise Line Workers To Arbitrate Injury Claims

MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on July 10 granted a motion to compel claims asserted by an onboard medical officer who was allegedly injured while working on a cruise ship, finding the claims subject to an arbitration agreement in her employment contract (Brenda K. Ringewald v. Holland America Line - USA Inc., et al., No. 1:15-cv-20254, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89758).

Mealey's Insurance - Exception To Policy's Water Intrusion Limitation Does Not Apply, Judge Says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida federal judge held on July 7 that an insured has failed to demonstrate that a "covered cause of loss" damaged the walls or roof of its motel property permitting the wind-driven rain of Tropical Storm Debby to intrude, concluding that the exception to the policy's water intrusion limitation does not apply (Divine Motel Group LLL d/b/a Royal Inn v. Rockhill Insurance Co., No. 14-31, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87789).

Mealey's Insurance - No Coverage Owed For Failure To Disclose Home Was Built On Dump Pit, Judge Says

TAMPA, Fla. - No coverage is afforded for an underlying suit alleging that an insured real estate agent failed to disclose that the ground upon which a home was built once served as a neighborhood dumping pit because the nondisclosure did not cause the property damage and the policies' pollution exclusions bar coverage, a Florida federal judge said July 6 (Southern-Owners Insurance Co., et al. v. Yvonne Herrera, et al., No. 13-2887, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87420).