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Proposals for Settlements and Attaching Releases

I have discussed proposals for settlement (also known as offers of judgment) in a number of prior articles.  A proposal for settlement is a procedural vehicle used to facilitate a settlement and create a basis to recover attorney’s fees from the date of the proposal on forward if the proposal for settlement is not accepted and the net judgment comes within a certain amount.  Serving a proposal for settlement, and the strategic timing if one is served, should be discussed with your counsel.  It should also be discussed with counsel the pros and cons of rejecting a proposal for settlement...

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Dismissal due to Fraud on the Court Post-Jury Verdict — Not Soooooo Fast

Oftentimes, people use the term “fraud on the court” without truly recognizing the difficulties in getting a case dismissed--the harshest of sanctions--especially in a circumstance where the jury already rendered a verdict.  Upon learning of the facts supporting “fraud on the court,” the appropriate motions should be filed during the course of the case because there are a number of remedies that can be employed short of dismissing a case with prejudice. While in appellate court will review a dismissal due to fraud on the court under an abuse of discretion standard of review, this does not mean that a trial...

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Special Venue Rule in Breach of Contract Actions Known as Debtor-Creditor Rule

There is a special venue rule known as the debtor-creditor rule, which applies in limited circumstances in breach of contract actions.  The debtor-creditor rule provides that if “a cause of action [is] based on failure to pay money due under a contract and the contract does not expressly provide a place of payment, it is implied that the debtor must seek the creditor and payment is to be made where the creditor resides.” Magic Wok International, Inc. v. Li, 706 So.2d 372, 374 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998).  This rule, importantly, ONLY applies when dealing with a liquidated debt; it does...

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Do Not Overlook Reviewing the Forum Selection Provision in the Contract

Many contracts contain what is known as a forum selection provision.  This provision may state that disputes arising out of the contract MUST be brought in the exclusive venue of a specific county or state. Do not overlook this provision because this provision is enforceable and will likely dictate where you will need to file suit in the event of a dispute.  For instance, if you have a contract for services performed in Miami-Dade County, Florida (or you live in that County, or is receiving goods in that County), you may not want to agree to litigate disputes arising from...

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Expert Cannot Serve as Conduit for Inadmissible Evidence / Hearsay

The law allows an expert to rely on hearsay when formulating expert opinions, but an expert cannot serve as a conduit for inadmissible evidence / hearsay.  This point is discussed in the wrongful death action, Dayes v. Werner Enterprises, Inc., 46 Fla.L.Weekly D233b (Fla. 3d DCA 2021), a case that resulted in a defense verdict that was reversed on appeal.  The case involved a tractor-trailer backing up and killing someone. The plaintiff (the estate of the deceased person) raised an issue on appeal that it was error for the trial court to allow a detective to testify “that another officer...

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Florida Supreme Court says No! – Extra-Contractual Damages cannot be Recovered against Property Insurer Absent Bad Faith Claim

Can an insured recover extra-contractual, consequential damages from its property insurer without pursuing a separate bad faith claim against the insurer?   The Florida Supreme Court, quashing an order of a lower appellate court, held NO!:  [W]e conclude that extra-contractual, consequential damages are not available in a first-party breach of insurance contract action because the contractual amount due to the insured is the amount owed pursuant to the express terms and conditions of the policy. Extra-contractual damages are available in a separate bad faith action pursuant to section 624.155 but are not recoverable in this action against Citizens because Citizens is statutorily...

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Discovery Appeal by Non-Party in Dispute

Discovery disputes do not always go your way.  You win some. You lose some. In losing a discovery dispute, it could give rise to an appeal through a petition for a writ of certiorari.  Obviously, this is not an easy appeal but, certainly, there are instances where the trial court issues a discovery ruling that gives rise to irreparable harm supporting the basis for certiorari.  This discovery ruling may be against a party, or in certain cases, a non-party. “To invoke the certiorari jurisdiction of this court, a petitioner must demonstrate a departure from the essential requirements of the law which...

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In Ruling on Motion to Compel Arbitration, Trial Court Must Determine whether Parties Bound by Arbitration Provision

Arbitration is a creature of contract.  This means if you want to arbitrate, instead of litigate, your dispute, you need to include an arbitration provision in your contract.   However, this does not mean that parties do not try to avoid arbitration, albeit there being an arbitration provision in the contract, by filing a lawsuit.   This leads to parties moving to compel arbitration and, upon the trial court’s ruling, a right to appeal.  A party may feel the nature of the dispute will play out better for them in arbitration versus litigation, or there are other important strategic reasons to arbitrate...

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Recording Documents in Public Records to put Others on Constructive Notice

A primary reason why documents concerning real property are recorded in the public (official) records is so that parties that do not have actual notice have “constructive notice” of the recording.  Because the document was recorded in the public records, you reasonably should have known of the recording.  To this point, Florida Statute s. 695.01(1) provides in pertinent portion, “No conveyance, transfer, or mortgage of real property, or of any interest therein, nor any lease for a term of 1 year or longer, shall be good and effectual in law or equity against creditors or subsequent purchasers for a valuable...

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Proposals for Settlement and Dismissals WITHOUT PREJUDICE

I have talked about proposals for settlement in a number of prior postings.  (See here, here, and here for a few of these postings.). Proposals for settlement are a vehicle to create an argument for attorney’s fees under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.442 and Florida Statute s. 768.79.  A party receiving a proposal for settlement has 30 days to accept the proposal.  If they do not, it triggers an argument to recover attorney’s fees from the date of the proposal for settlement on forward based on the amount of the recovered judgment. However, Florida cases have held that even if...

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