LAKELAND, Fla. - A trial judge did not err in allowing an arresting officer's testimony regarding the detection of marijuana on a juvenile, a Florida appeals panel affirmed March 11, finding that the standard set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc. (509 U.S. 579 ) "does not change the long-established rule that lay persons can identify marijuana based on their personal experience and knowledge" (R.C. v. State of Florida, No. 2D15-1738, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 3762).
TAMPA, Fla. - Although a Florida federal judge expressed his doubts as to the ultimate success of a borrower's complaint against her lender under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), he found in a March 9 ruling that, as pleaded, her complaint has facial plausibility that allowed it to mostly survive the lender's motion to dismiss (Matilde Amarchand v. CitiMortgage Inc., No. 8:15-cv-02051, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30463).
ATLANTA - A Florida federal judge did not err in granting two defendants accused of violating the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) summary judgment because the judge properly determined that their use of two plaintiffs' names in a series of domain names required proof of secondary meaning to be actionable under the statute, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concluded March 9 (Dan Pronman, et al. v. Brian Styles, et al., No. 15-12651, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4402).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., - A Florida on March 8 rejected a woman's claim that her deceased husband's lung cancer and death were caused by his addiction to Paul Mall cigarettes, finding in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. after just over a week of trial (Jessie Gamble v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2014-CA-003848, Fla. Cir., 4th Jud. Cir., Duval Co.).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Finding that a former judge may be able to assist a jury on procedures employed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. immigration courts, a Florida federal judge on March 4 reserved ruling on a motion to exclude until trial (United States of America v. Yohany Hernandez-Hernandez, No. 15-59, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27737).
ST. LOUIS - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 7 found that the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act (FIRA) passed by Congress in 2012 does not reinstate coverage for a canceled flood insurance policy, affirming a lower court's ruling in favor of the insurer in a lawsuit seeking coverage for homes destroyed by Missouri River flooding (Lyle & Alice Hodde, et al. v. American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida, No. 15-1081, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 4280).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida jury on March 1 awarded the widow of a man who developed lung cancer after years of smoking $350,000 after finding that lung cancer was not the cause of his death (Bernice McCall v. Philip Morris USA, Inc. No. 2007-CV-036888, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A majority of a Florida appeals court found Feb. 26 that a lower court gave an improper jury instruction on a homeowners insurer's burden of proof and compounded its error with a misleading instruction as to the directed verdict it entered in favor of the insureds, reversing and remanding a $542,883.49 judgment in favor of the insureds in a sinkhole coverage dispute (Citizens Property Insurance Corp. v. Rona Salkey, et al., No. 2D14-3002 consolidated with No. 2D14-5077, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 2840).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 24 affirmed dismissal of a fired security guard's gender discrimination and retaliation claims against the Seminole Tribe of Florida's casino, holding that the tribe is a federally recognized Indian tribe entitled to sovereign immunity (Stanley Longo v. Seminole Indian Casino-Immokalee, No. 15-12460, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3160).
TAMPA, Fla. - After finding that it lacked jurisdiction over claims asserted by a former property owner's claims related to a mortgage under the doctrine established in Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co. (263 U.S. 413 ) and District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman (460 U.S. 462 ) and that the claims were barred by res judicata, a Florida federal judge on Feb. 23 granted a motion to dismiss the case (Albert Salmon v. Aurora Loan Services LLC, et al., No. 8:15-cv-2339, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21854).
PALM BEACH, Fla., - A Florida jury on Feb. 23 found that a woman who sued two tobacco companies claiming that they concealed the dangers of smoking from her was not a member of the Engle class and, therefore, entered a verdict in favor of the defense (Elizabeth Ann Smith, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2007-CA-023930, Fla. Cir., 15th Jud. Cir., Palm Beach Co.).
ATLANTA - A federal district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of an insurer in an insurance bad faith lawsuit because the court's analysis focused on the wrong party, which contradicts Florida law, an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 19 (Joshua Moore v. GEICO General Insurance Co., No. 14-13356, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 2874).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on Feb. 19 held that a lower court erred in ordering an insurer to pay for its insureds' subsurface repairs before the insureds entered into a contract for those repairs and in awarding the insureds prejudgment interest, reversing in part the court's $192,207.20 judgment against the insurer in a sinkhole coverage dispute (Citizens Property Insurance Corporation v. Ariety Amat, et al., No. 2D14-4274, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 2412).
MIAMI - A defendant in a personal injury lawsuit failed to make a timely objection under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (509 U.S. 579 ), a Florida appeals panel ruled Feb. 17, reversing a trial judge's decision to grant a new trial following a $93,000 jury verdict (Enzo Rojas v. Yagmerys Rodriguez, No. 3D15-277, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 2247).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida federal magistrate judge, applying Texas law, on Feb. 12 granted an umbrella liability insurer's motion for summary judgment after determining that the umbrella policy's pollution exclusion clearly bars coverage for injuries arising out of carbon monoxide poisoning regardless of what caused the carbon monoxide to seep into the hotel guests' room (Kenneth E. Shaw, et al. v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., No. 15-686, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17626).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi on Feb. 11 announced that the state had entered into a proposed settlement with KB Homes and its Florida subsidiaries over alleged violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) stemming from the defendants' alleged defective construction of homes and improper denial of warranty claims resulting from the defects (Office of the Attorney General, Department of Legal Affairs, State of Florida v. KB Home, et al., No. 2016-CA-000300, Fla. Cir.; Leon Co.).
MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on Feb. 10 held that a general liability insurance policy's "separation of insureds" provision allowed an insured's claimant to pursue her claims stemming from a slip-and-fall injury against additional insureds under the policy, reversing a lower court's ruling that coverage is barred by the "absolute employer's liability" provision (Kerry Taylor v. Admiral Insurance Co., No. 3D14-720, Fla., App., 3rd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 1807).
MIAMI - Unresolved coverage issues exist for water damage sustained at two insured properties, a Florida federal judge ruled Feb. 8, finding that appraisal is not appropriate until the court resolves all underlying coverage issues (Elena V. Pernas v. Scottsdale Insurance Co., No. 15-21506, S.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15031).
TAMPA, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on Feb. 8 denied an insurer's motion to dismiss in an insurance bad faith lawsuit, ruling that abatement of certain of an insured's claims is a more proper course of action (Tamara Ley, et al. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. 15-2687, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15032).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Feb. 5 ordered a trial court judge to reinstate a jury's $168,000 verdict in favor of a woman who claims that the defective construction of her home rendered it worthless, finding that the opinions of a general contractor, a real estate agent and a structural engineer that the home should be demolished showed that the home was valueless (Angela M. Gray v. Mark Hall Homes Inc., et al., No. 2D15-616, Fla. App,. 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 1578).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Damages from an insured's defective work that resulted in water intrusion are precluded under a "your work" exclusion, a Florida federal judge ruled Feb. 3, finding that an insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify the insured (Auto-Owners Insurance Co. v. Elite Homes, Inc., et al., No. 14-1182, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12910).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida federal magistrate judge's recommendation that a request for attorney fees in a patent case should be denied was adopted in full Feb. 2 by U.S. Judge Anne C. Conway of the Middle District of Florida (Sweepstakes Patent Company v. Chase Burns, et al., No. 14-151, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12158).
ORLANDO, Fla. - Genuine issues of material fact exist as to whether a general contractor qualified as an additional insured under a commercial general liability policy and, if so, whether the contractor satisfied the self-insured retention (SIR) endorsement in an underlying construction defects lawsuit, a Florida federal judge held Feb. 1 (Core Construction Services Southeast, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Insurance Co., No. 14-1789, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11487).
MIAMI - A Florida federal judge on Feb. 1 dismissed without prejudice a woman's claim that Prempro hormone replacement therapy caused her to develop breast cancer (Maggie Tsavaris v. Pfizer, Inc., et al., No. 15-21826, S.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11465).