PUNTA GORDA, Fla. - A jury in Florida on Oct. 6 awarded $5,000 to a man who sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR), alleging that RJR was liable for his wife's death from lung cancer because she was addicted to the company's cigarettes, the negative health effects of which RJR had concealed for decades (John Gordon v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, No. 2013CA001552, Fla. Cir., 20th Jud. Cir.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Oct. 5 rejected an insurer's argument that a professional liability insurance policy's prior knowledge exclusion bars coverage for an underlying malpractice lawsuit against attorney insureds, finding that fact issues preclude summary judgment (Mitchell Feldman, et al. v. Imperium Insurance Co., No. 14-1637, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135478).
MIAMI - The Florida jury that previously awarded a smoker's widow $1 million for in compensatory damages in connection with smoking-related illnesses that included lung cancer on Oct. 7 found two tobacco companies liable for a combined total of $500,000 in punitive damages (Gertrude Marchese v. Philip Morris, et al., No. 2013-cv-002849, Fla. Cir., 17th Judicial Cir.).
MIAMI - A jury in Florida on Oct. 2 awarded a smoker's widow $1 million in compensatory damages and found that two tobacco companies were also liable for punitive damages in connection with the smoking-related illnesses that included lung cancer. The punitive damages phase of the trial is continuing (Gertrude Marchese v. Philip Morris, et al., No. 2013-cv-002849, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud. Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge presiding over litigation stemming from Chinese drywall did not err when denying a motion to enjoin a Florida from pursuing class action claims in Florida state court over the loss of market value of his condominium, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled, finding that the claims are not subject to two settlements resolving claims over the product (In re: Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, No. 14-31355, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 17407).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The judge of compensation claims (JCC) did not abuse his discretion in denying an objection to medical opinion testimony in a workers' compensation lawsuit, a Florida appeals panel affirmed Sept. 30 (Ernesto O. Sierra v. Metropolitan Protective Services and Guarantee Insurance, No. 1D15-0094, Fla. App., 1st Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 14510).
PANAMA CITY, Fla. - A subcontractor's insurer had a duty to defend an additional insured contractor in an underlying construction defect case, a Florida federal judge ruled Sept. 30, finding that the alleged defects in the subcontractor's stucco work constituted an "occurrence" (Travelers Property Casualty Company of America v. Amerisure Insurance Co., et al., No. 14-10, N.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132817).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A petition for rehearing by a patent plaintiff was denied Oct. 2 by the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which instead stood by its July decision to affirm a Florida federal judge's finding of noninfringement (ParkerVision Inc. v. Qualcomm Inc., Nos. 14-1612, -1655, Fed. Cir.).
MIAMI - A federal judge in Florida on Sept. 30 granted an insurer's motion for summary judgment in an insurance bad faith lawsuit, ruling that the plaintiff failed to show that a "rational trier of fact could find" that the insurer acted in bad faith in the handling of a claim for third-party benefits (Norma I. Feijoo, f/k/a/ Norma Borroto, v. GEICO General Insurance Co., No.14-24659, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132667).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A partial summary judgment order and a subsequent order on reconsideration in a dispute over bra patents were both vacated by a Florida federal judge on Sept. 30 (Chico's Fas Inc. v. Andrea Clair, et al., No. 13-792, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131308).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel held Sept. 30 that there is a material issue of fact regarding the proper method of subsurface repair in a sinkhole coverage dispute, reversing and remanding a lower court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the insurer (Lizardo Estrada, et al. v. Tower Hill Select Insurance Co., et al., No. 2D13-3671 c/w No. 2D14-1101, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 14444).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Sept. 28 found that a borrower failed to submit evidence to support his claim for violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) but allowed his claims against a loan servicer for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and another claim to proceed (Alex Rodriguez v. Seterus Inc., No. 15-61253, S.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130172).
LAKELAND, Fla. - An all-risk insurance policy does not cover claims for damages caused by Chinese drywall in a home, a Florida appeals panel ruled Sept. 25, affirming judgment to the insurer on a breach of contract claim (William R. Peek and Stacey Peek v. American Integrity Insurance Company of Florida, No. 2D14-780, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2015 Fla. App. LEXIS 14147).
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).
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).
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).
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.).
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).
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.).
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.).
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.).