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Discoverability of Opposing Party’s Attorney’s Fees Records

Interesting new Florida Supreme Court case regarding the discoverability of an opposing party’s attorney’s fees records in a dispute regarding the reasonableness of your fees. For instance, say you are entitled to your reasonable attorney’s fees after prevailing in a dispute. The parties are entitled to an evidentiary fee hearing to determine the reasonableness of your fees—to determine the reasonable hourly rate and number of expended hours. Oftentimes, the party that prevailed serves discovery on the opposing / contesting party to discover their attorney’s fees records. The opposing / contesting party typically objects to this discovery as being irrelevant. But, not...

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Race-Neutral Reason for Peremptory Challenge

During the voi dire / jury selection process, a party is entitled to 3 peremptory challenges. This means a party can strike prospective jurors for any race-neutral reason. There are times where a party uses a peremptory challenge to strike a juror and the opponent believes the peremptory challenge is being used for a racially motivated reason (i.e., to strike a particular prospective juror due to that juror’s race or ethnicity). Even when the proponent of the peremptory challenge explains the race-neutral reason for the challenge, the opponent believes that the race-neutral reason is merely a pretext. The Second District Court...

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Make Sure to Timely Raise Your Daubert Objection to Expert Testimony

  If you are going to raise a Daubert objection or challenge (or request a Daubert hearing), you need to TIMELY do so before the expert witness testifies. A Daubert motion / challenge / hearing relates to the admissibility of an expert witness’ testimony. As you can imagine, this is an extremely important issue as many cases depend on expert witness testimony to support their burden of proof. In Rojas v. Rodriguez, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D423a (Fla. 3d DCA 2016), a defendant raised a Daubert objection post-verdict. The defendant was challenging the admissibility of the testimony of plaintiff's neurosurgeon expert in requesting a new trial....

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Agent’s Out-of-Court Statements Could Constitute Admissions by a Party Opponent

Below is an example in a criminal trial of the exception to the hearsay rule referred to as admissions against party opponents when a party’s agent makes an out-of-court statement. Check out this article and this article for more on this important hearsay exception embodied in Florida Statute s. 90.803(18). In Osorio v. State of Florida, 41 Fla.L.WeeklyD547b (Fla. 4th DCA 2016), the police used a confidential informant to make an arrest in a drug case. The confidential informant happened to be a co-worker of the defendant (that had previously been arrested on an unrelated drug charge and turned into an...

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Incorrect / Misleading Jury Instructions and Reversible Error

I have discussed the importance of jury instructions. Time should be taken crafting applicable jury instructions based on the law to discuss during the charging conference where the judge determines the jury instructions to read to the jury. What happens if a court reads a misleading and incorrect jury instruction? Final judgment may be reversed and a new trial ordered--reversible error! In a first-party property insurance coverage dispute, the court read a jury instruction relating to the insured and insurer’s burden of proof. The jury instruction, however, was confusing and contained an incorrect burden of proof for the insurer. As a...

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The Nonparty Fabre Defendant

I want to discuss the concept of a “Fabre defendant.” This is an important concept in negligence cases, particularly personal injury and property damage cases. “A ‘Fabre defendant’ is a nonparty defendant whom a party defendant asserts is wholly of partially responsible for the negligence alleged [by the plaintiff].” Salazar v. Helicopter Structural & Maintenance, Inc., 986 So.2d 620, n.1 (Fla.2d DCA 2007). As further explained in Florida Statute s. 768.81(3): (3) Apportionment of damages.--In a negligence action, the court shall enter judgment against each party liable on the basis of such party's percentage of fault and not on the basis of the...

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Witness Laying Foundation for Business Records Exception Need Not be the Person that Prepared the Business Records

If you have visited this blog before, then you know the importance I place on the business records exception to the hearsay rule in civil business disputes. (Check out this article too.) Lately, the business records exception to the hearsay rule is a hot topic in mortgage foreclosure cases. In yet another foreclosure case, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., as Trustee, on Behalf of the Harborview Mortgage Loan Trust Mortgage Loan Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2007-1 v. Balkisson, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D308a (Fla. 4th DCA 2016), the trial court entered an involuntary dismissal in favor of the borrower and against the lender after sustaining...

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De Novo Standard of Appellate Review for Construction of Arbitration Provision

Your contract contains an arbitration provision meaning you are required to arbitrate your dispute instead of litigate your dispute (in court).  Nonetheless, your opponent files a lawsuit against you and you move to compel the dispute to arbitration pursuant to the arbitration provision in your contract.  But, the trial court denies your motion to compel arbitration based on its interpretation of the arbitration provision. So, what do you do? You file an interlocutory appeal to appeal this ruling since you want to arbitrate your dispute.  The appellate standard of review for the construction (interpretation) of an arbitration provision is de novo....

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Statutory Construction Subject to De Novo Standard of Appellate Review

Oftentimes, courts are required to engage in statutory construction and this statutory construction becomes a driving issue in the dispute. Statutory construction is the process of a court interpreting law and then applying that law to a set of facts. For example, if your case turns on the interpretation of a particular Florida statute applied to your facts, this would be statutory construction.  On appeal, the issue of statutory construction is subject to a de novo standard of appellate review. Taylor Morrison Services, Inc. v. Ecos, 163 So.3d 1286, 1289 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015). A de novo standard of review means the...

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You Cannot Contradict Testimony with Affidavit Testimony in Response to Summary Judgment

Preparing expert witnesses for deposition is vital. To this end, working with an expert witness to ensure their expert opinions fit within the context and theme of your case and burden of proof is equally vital. Not doing so can be fatal to your case. This can lead to unprepared testimony or opinions that may appear innocuous but are in fact detrimental to your claims. For example, in the recent opinion in Lesnik v. Duval Ford, LLC, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D281a (Fla. 1st DCA 2016), the plaintiff’s expert witness was deposed. The case involved a single vehicle accident where the plaintiff asserted claims...

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