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Duty Element of Negligence – Did Defendant’s Conduct Foreseeably Create Broader Zone of Risk

In any negligence action, the first element a plaintiff needs to prove is that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff.  Lee v. Harper, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D2251a (Fla. 1st DCA 2021).   This duty element is a threshold legal question or a question of law.  Id. “The duty element of negligence focuses on whether the defendant’s conduct foreseeably created a broader ‘zone of risk’that poses a general threat of harm to others.” Id. (quotations and citations omitted). The issue is not whether the harm in question was foreseeable but the “defendant’s conduct must create the risk or control the...

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Trier of Fact Determines Weight of the Evidence

Just because there was conflicting evidence does not mean a new trial is warranted or the trier of fact got it wrong.  It just means the trier of fact weighed that conflicting evidence differently then you. This is permissible because it is up to the trier of fact to determine the weight to be given to the evidence.  Trials are filled with conflicting evidence and he said/she said testimony.  This is why there is a dispute.  The determination of who is right and who is wrong based on this conflicting evidence and the weight to be given to the evidence...

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Oops! I Sued the Wrong Party and Need to Amend the Complaint AFTER the Expiration of the Statute of Limitations

If you incorrectly sue the wrong party and need to amend to substitute the correct party after the statute of limitations, there is an argument the amendment will relate back to the timely filing of the initial complaint. This means, with the relation back of the amended complaint to the initial complaint, that the amended complaint was timely filed and the expiration of the statute of limitations does not apply. In Friedel v. Edwards, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D2125a (Fla. 2d DCA 2021), a plaintiff sued a defendant stemming from a car accident.   However, the defendant had died so the plaintiff moved to...

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Declaratory Judgment / Relief Considerations

There are a number of lawsuits where a party will assert a claim for declaratory judgment/relief.  This is a claim oftentimes included in insurance coverage disputes, but is also asserted in a plethora of other types of civil disputes where a party asks the trial court to issue a declaration. To be legally sufficient, a complaint for declaratory relief must allege that: (1) there is a bona fide dispute between the parties; (2) the plaintiff has a justiciable question as to the existence or nonexistence of some right, status, immunity, power or privilege, or as to some fact upon which existence of...

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Affidavit Used to Support or Defend Against Summary Judgment

I recently discussed a case found here where the appellate court affirmed summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff finding that the affidavit proffered by the defendant did NOT create a genuine issue of material fact.  A major reason the appellate court affirmed summary judgment is because an affidavit cannot be based on hearsay.  The affidavit MUST be based on personal knowledge that is more than conclusory in nature and lays a factual predicate.   This is important to remember when moving for summary judgment and defending against a summary judgment to ensure your affidavits are done correctly and you are...

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Calculating the Judgment Obtained in Determining Proposals for Settlement

There are numerous prior postings discussing proposals for settlement / offers of judgment.  As discussed, they create an argument to recover attorney’s fees from the date of the proposal on forward.  A recent case discusses the thorny issues of determining whether the “judgment obtained” by the plaintiff meets the threshold to recover attorney’s fees when serving a proposal for settlement under Florida Statute s. 768.79. In this case, the plaintiff served a proposal for settlement on March 21, 2019. The defendant did not accept the proposal.  The case proceeded to trial and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the...

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Establishing Punitive Damages Against a Corporation

“In Florida, there are two methods for establishing a claim for punitive damages against a corporation: ‘(1) vicarious liability based on the willful and malicious actions of an employee with a finding of independent negligent conduct by the corporation; or (2) direct liability based on the willful and malicious actions of managing agents of the corporation.’" Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. v. Electronic Funds Transfer Corp., 46 Fla.L.Weekly D1824e (Fla. 5th DCA 2021) In Wells Fargo Bank, a defendant bank was being sued for punitive damages.  At the conclusion of the evidence, the defendant bank moved for a directed verdict as to the...

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Premise Liability Claims and Case Example of Slip on Uneven Floors

In premises liability cases, the plaintiff must show the defendant had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition on its premises, the defendant owed a duty to protect the plaintiff from the dangerous condition, the defendant breached that duty, there was a causal connection between the defendant's breach and the plaintiff's fall, and the plaintiff suffered damages as a result.  “[A] business owner owes two ‘separate and distinct' duties to business invitees: ‘1) to warn of concealed dangers which are or should be known to the owner and which are unknown to the invitee and cannot be discovered through...

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Ruling on a Privilege Objection

When a party receives a discovery request, the party may assert an objection under a privilege such as the attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine.  If a trial court orders the production of privileged materials, the appropriate appellate mechanism is to file a petition for a writ of certiorari.  Brinkmann v. Petro Welt Trading, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D1644a (Fla. 2d DCA 2021). Notably, a party is not “required to provide a privilege log when first responding to the requests for production and that the typical procedure was to hear the motion to compel and then to require a privilege log before the...

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Discussion on the Difference Between Replacement Cost Value and Fair Market Value

This post discusses an interesting, but fairly complex decision dealing with the difference between replacement cost value and fair market value (actual cost value).  The decision also discusses the set-off when suing a defendant after being paid the replacement cost value limit under the policy. In Five Solas, Inc. v. Ram Realty Services, LLC, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D1255a (Fla. 4th DCA 2021), a brick wall collapsed falling on a neighboring building damaging the building and rendering it untenantable.  The owner of the building had a replacement cost value property insurance policy with a liability limit and deductible.  The insurer paid the liability limit...

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