TAMPA, Fla - The owner of a company that provided durable medical equipment was sentenced by a federal judge in Florida on June 13 to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay $$918,402 in restitution for his role in a $2.5 million Medicare fraud scheme (United States of America v. Ubert G. Rodriguez, No. 13cr372, M.D. Fla.).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on June 10 issued a memorandum order in an insurance bad faith lawsuit, ruling that his rejection of an insured's proposed jury instruction was proper because the authorities asserted by the insured "do not establish the existence of a 'presumption' under Florida law . . . regarding the possible outcome of settlement efforts" (Douglas Stalley, as Guardian of the Property of Benjamin Edward Hintz, v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 14-1074, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75981).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on June 10 quashed a lower court's order that required insureds to disclose their financial information regarding their settlement agreement with their homeowners insurer in a sinkhole coverage dispute (Wayne Allen and Susan Allen v. State Farm Florida Insurance Co., No. 2D15-3114, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 8941).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on June 9 ruled 5-2 that a tobacco company owes nearly $770,000 in post-judgment interest to an Engle progeny plaintiff because a statute that changed the interest rate was not in place when judgment in the plaintiffs case was originally entered (Lyantie Townsend v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No SC15-722, Fla. Sup.; 2016 Fla. Sup. LEXIS 1195).
TAMPA, Fla. - Assertions of prevailing party status by both a plaintiff and a defendant in a dispute over the "Meth Lab Cleanup" trademark were rejected by a Florida federal judge on June 7, who instead deemed the case "a tie" (Meth Lab Cleanup LLC v. Spaulding Decon LLC, et al., No. 14-3129, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74020).
MIAMI - A Florida federal magistrate judge on June 2 struck a declaration from an expert in a fraud and negligent misrepresentation lawsuit with regard to diesel engine generator sets (gensets), finding that the supplemental report was untimely (Companhia Energetica Potiguar v. Caterpillar, Inc., et al., No. 14-24277, S.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72102).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel found June 1 that an insured failed to exhaust available administrative remedies before filing a class action lawsuit alleging that his homeowners insurer violated a Florida statute by improperly collecting a $25 managing general agent (MGA) fee on all of its insurance policies (People's Trust Insurance Co. v. Josef Pesta, No. 4D15-4035, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 8332).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A trial judge did not abuse her discretion in excluding a plaintiff's causation testimony in a products liability lawsuit, a Florida appeals panel affirmed June 1 (Simona Bunin v. Matrixx Initiatives, Inc. f/k/a Gumtech International, Inc., et al., Nos. 4D14-3579 & 4D15-86, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 8353).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A trial judge erred in granting an abatement order in a breach of contract lawsuit between insureds and their homeowners insurer, a Florida appeals panel ruled June 1, quashing the order and remanding for further proceedings (Raymond Diaz and Surey Diaz v. Florida Peninsula Insurance Co., No. 4D15-3283, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 8341).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A tribunal for the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) on June 1 released its award in an arbitration commenced by a Florida company against the Dominican Republic under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), finding that the case was time-barred and that the claimant failed to satisfy the conditions of DR-CAFTA (Corona Materials LLC v. Dominican Republic, No. ARB[AF]/14/3, ICSID).
MIAMI - A Florida federal judge held May 28 that because an exclusion bars coverage for an injury sustained by an insured's employee, an insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify the insured against an underlying lawsuit arising from the workplace accident (Everest Reinsurance Co. v. American Guard Services, Inc., et al., No. 15-22404, S.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70212).
MIAMI - A federal judge in Florida on May 31 sentenced the owner of a consulting and medical staffing company to five years in prison and ordered him to pay $2.3 million in restitution for his role in a Medicare fraud scheme (United States of America v. Milka Alvarez, et al., No. 15-cr-20436, S.D. Fla.).
TAMPA, Fla. - Dismissal of a statutory bad faith claim in a workers' compensation coverage dispute is not proper because abatement of the claim pending resolution of a breach of contract claim is appropriate, a federal judge in Florida ruled May 26 (DSK Group Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Co., No. 15-1987, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69225).
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.).