TAMPA, Fla. - Fertilizer manufacturers who are being sued for groundwater contamination allegedly connected to an incident at their plant moved in federal court in Florida on Nov. 21, contending that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs' complaint "does not contain a single allegation that" contaminants have been detected beyond the borders of the property where the plant is located and because jurisdiction is lacking (Nicholas Bohn, et al. v. The Mosaic Company, et al., No. 16-02724, M.D. Fla.).
MIAMI - A former pharmacy owner was convicted by a federal jury in Florida on Nov. 16 of three counts of health care fraud for his role in a scheme in which he fraudulently billed Medicare $700,000 for prescription drugs that were never dispensed (United States of America v. Andres Alfonso, No. 16-cr-20567, S.D. Fla.).
ORLANDO, Fla. - Because there is no evidence that an insured's exterior insulation finishing system (EIFS) was defectively installed, a Florida federal judge on Nov. 18 denied an insurer's motion for summary judgment in a suit filed by an insured seeking coverage for water and mold damages to the insured's home (George Crews, et al. v. Federal Insurance Co., No. 15-866, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160200).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Nov. 14 declined to certify a class of individuals who received debt collection notices that violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), finding that a class action was not the superior method for adjudicating the matter; the judge granted the named plaintiff's summary judgment motion and awarded the plaintiff $1 in statutory damages (Ronnie E. Dickens v. GC Services Limited Partnership, No. 16-803, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156916).
NAPLES, Fla. - A Florida jury on Nov. 14 found in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in an Engle progeny suit, determining that a woman knew or should have known that she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) before the cutoff date to file an Engle progeny suit (Patricia Kloppenburg v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 1006472CA, Fla. 20th Jud. Cir. Collier Co.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on Nov. 14 awarded $4 million to a woman who developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) after finding that she developed the disease by smoking cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. (Mary Howles v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2007-CV-034919, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud., Broward Co.).
MIAMI - A forensic engineer's expert testimony on why a woman fell from a plane's mobile stairway and why an airline should maintain information on the stairway's model is unreliable and inadmissible, a Florida federal judge ruled Nov. 8, excluding the testimony supporting the woman's claims that her injuries were not an accident (Esther Serrano v. American Airlines Inc., No. 15-23382, S.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154826).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida jury on Nov. 2 found that a doctor was not negligent in obtaining informed consent to perform electroshock therapy on a patient being treated for depression (Shaul Dadi v. Praturi Sharma, No. 2011-CA-16027, Fla. 15th Jud. Cir. Palm Co.).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A Florida jury in an Engle progeny case was unable to reach an agreement on whether a woman who died from lung cancer was addicted to cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and the judge declared a mistrial on Nov. 1 (John Maloney v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 07-CA-015578, Fla. 20th Jud. Cir., Lee Co.).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida federal judge on Oct. 31 refused to grant injunctive relief to a property owner in relation to an attempt to enjoin several lenders from foreclosing on a property and ordered the parties to submit a joint statement as to why the court has jurisdiction over the case (Joseph E. Altier v. Suntrust Mortgage Inc., et al., No. 6:16-cv-1752, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150371).
TAMPA, Fla. - Because a disability plan administrator was not served with a claimant's motion seeking an order requiring the plan administrator to reschedule and videotape an independent medical exam (IME), a Florida federal magistrate judge on Oct. 21 denied the claimant's motion without prejudice and allowed the claimant to refile and serve the motion on the plan administrator (Alexander Stratigos v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 16-2780, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146094).
FORT MYERS, Fla.- A federal judge in Florida on Oct. 24 dismissed without prejudice a primary and excess insurers' amended complaint seeking a declaration that they have no duty to defend or indemnify their cancer care service provider insured against underlying class action lawsuits stemming from a 2015 data breach, giving the insurers seven days to cure the deficiencies in their petition (The Charter Oak Fire Insurance Co., et al. v. 21st Century Oncology Investments, No. 16-00732, M.D. Fla.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida jury on Oct. 25 awarded $20 million in punitive damages to the husband of a woman who died after developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from smoking cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in an Engle progeny trial (Alan Konzelman v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CV-019620, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.).
COLUMBUS, Ga. - A Georgia federal judge presiding over the Mentor ObTape pelvic mesh multidistrict litigation on Oct. 20 said the plaintiff presented "ample" evidence to support a jury's punitive damages finding but said there was no evidence that Mentor Corp. had specific intent under Florida law to harm the plaintiff and capped the jury's $4 million punitive damages verdict at $2 million (In Re: Mentor Corp. ObTape Transobturator Sling Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2004, No. 08-md-2004, Teresa Taylor v. Mentor Corp., No. 12-176, D. Md.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145290).
ATLANTA - A federal judge in Florida did not err when finding that a man who pleaded guilty for his role in an insurance fraud scheme that involved fraudulently billing private insurance companies for services that were not provided was accountable for $31 million in intended losses, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of appeals ruled Oct. 18, holding that the defendant agreed in his plea agreement that his actions resulted in losses between $20 million and $50 million (United States of America v. Alejandro Jesus Cura, No. 15-15259, 11th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18638).
MIAMI - A Florida appeals court on Oct. 19 affirmed a judge's ruling setting aside a $10.3 million Jones Act asbestos verdict against a cruise line (Giovanna Settimi Caraffa, et al. v. Carnival Cruise Lines, No. 3D 15-356, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Oct. 20 held that insureds' claim for sinkhole damage is governed by the definition of "covered claim'" in Section 631.54(3), Florida Statutes, that was effective May 17, 2011, affirming an appeals court's reversal of a lower court's order confirming a $130,600 appraisal award against the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association (FIGA) (Leandro de la Fuente, et al. v. FIGA, No. SC15-519, Fla. Sup.).
TAMPA, Fla. - A disability insurer correctly determined that a claimant was no longer eligible for long-term care disability benefits because it is clear from the evidence that the claimant no longer qualified for benefits under the policy's cognitive-impairment or functional-disability provisions, a Florida federal judge said Oct. 17 (David Carr v. John Hancock Life Insurance Co. [USA], No. 14-2867, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143050).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on Oct. 14 granted a property insurer's motion to enforce a mandate ordering a lower court to enter final judgment in its favor in a sinkhole coverage dispute (Florida Peninsula Insurance Co. v. Maricela Cespedes, No. 2D12-4575, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 15238).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - In a coverage dispute over water damage to an insured's kitchen, an insurer was wrongfully denied an opportunity to argue that it could repair the damaged property and that hiring a general contractor was unnecessary, a Florida appeals panel ruled Oct. 13, reversing a trial judge's entry of summary judgment to the insured (Prepared Insurance Co. v. David Gal, No. 4D15-1909, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 15181).
MIAMI - A Florida appellate panel on Oct.13 affirmed a defense verdict in an Engle progeny suit after finding that the trial judge did not err by including a question about Philip Morris USA Inc.'s fault on the verdict form over the plaintiff's objections (Jose Vila v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 3D15-1853, Fla. App. 3rd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 15126).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Finding no error in a Florida federal judge's determination of patent ineligibility under 35 U.S. Code Section 101, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 11 affirmed dismissal of a dispute over a fraud detection patent (FairWarning IP LLC v. Iatric Systems Inc., No. 15-1985, Fed. Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18313).