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Introduce the Right Circumstantial Evidence for Purposes of “Admission by Party Opponent” Hearsay Exception

One of the exceptions to hearsay is known as an admission by a party opponent. In Florida, this hearsay exception is included in Florida Statute s. 90.803(18): (18) ADMISSIONS.—A statement that is offered against a party and is: (a) The party’s own statement in either an individual or a representative capacity; (b) A statement of which the party has manifested an adoption or belief in its truth; (c) A statement by a person specifically authorized by the party to make a statement concerning the subject; (d) A statement by the party’s agent or servant concerning a matter within the scope of the agency or employment thereof, made during the existence...

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Incorporated Documents (such as an Addendum) Need to be Identified as Incorporated

If you have a document you want incorporated into the contract, make sure the contract specifically identifies the incorporated document.  Otherwise, that document will NOT form the basis of your contract and if that document is not executed, it will NOT affect the enforceability of your contract. By way of example, in Mercado v. Sridhar, 48 Fla.L.Weekly D2188a (Fla. 3d DCA 2023), a buyer and seller entered into a purchase-and-sale contract. The issue was an addendum relating to the seller’s furnishings and a leaseback option that was never executed.  The buyer sued the seller for specific performance when the seller refused...

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Accord and Satisfaction requires Good Faith Conduct

The party asserting accord and satisfaction must prove that “the amount of the claim was unliquidated or subject to a bona fide dispute.” [See Florida’s Uniform Commercial Code, § 673.3111(1).]  The dispute cannot arise after the party seeking accord and satisfaction tenders the payment instrument intended to satisfy or discharge the debt.  *** The party seeking accord and satisfaction must also tender the instrument in good faith.  Because Florida caselaw regarding good faith in an accord and satisfaction context is relatively undeveloped, court decisions in other states with similar accord and satisfaction statutes are instructive.  *** “Accord and satisfaction is something that must be...

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Rescission of Contract based on Mutual Mistake

To state a cause of action for rescission of a contract, a plaintiff must include the following elements in the complaint: (1) The character or relationship of the parties; (2) The making of the contract; (3) The existence of fraud, mutual mistake, false representations, impossibility of performance, or other ground for rescission or cancellation; (4) That the party seeking rescission has rescinded the contract and notified the other party to the contract of such rescission. (5) If the moving party has received benefits from the contract, he should further allege an offer to restore these benefits to the party furnishing them, if restoration is possible; (6) Lastly,...

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Venue Considerations when Challenging Venue

In a recent construction dispute, Schultz Builders & Pools, Inc. v. Icon Welding & Fabrication, LLC, 48 Fla.L.Weekly D1381b (Fla. 2d DCA 2023), a general contractor hired a subcontractor. The subcontract contained NO venue provision or specified where payments were to be due.  This was important because the general contractor and subcontractor were located in different counties and the general contractor was located in the county where the project at-issue was located. A payment dispute arose, and the subcontractor sued the general contractor in the county where it was located. The general contractor moved to transfer venue to the county...

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Equal Wrongdoing Doctrine Known as In Pari Delicto

There is a legal doctrine known by its Latin phrase, in pari delicto, that: [R]efers to ‘[t]he principle that a plaintiff who has participated in wrongdoing may not recover damages resulting from the wrongdoing.”  This principle is ‘grounded on two premises: first, that courts should not lend their good offices to mediating disputes among wrongdoers; and second, that denying judicial relief to an admitted wrongdoer is an effective means of deterring illegality.’  Perry v. Turner, 48 Fla.L.Weekly D1307a (Fla. 2nd DCA 2023) (internal citations omitted). As shown, it is premised on the fact that one cannot be rewarded for their equal wrongdoing, i.e.,...

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Affidavits and Declarations Used for Summary Judgment

When a party moves or opposes a motion for summary judgment, the party will include an affidavit or declaration. The affidavit or declaration MUST be legally sufficient to have any weight. Do not take it from me. Take it from the recent appellate decision in Savoy v. American Platinum Property & Casualty Insurance, 48 Fla.L.Weekly D1241a (Fla. 4th DCA 2023) where the appellate court held the movant’s affidavit was insufficient because it was not based on the affiant’s personal knowledge.  The legally insufficient reason served as a basis for the appellate court to reverse the summary judgment in favor of...

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Procedure for Seeking Punitive Damages

The recent appellate opinion in Werner Enterprises, Inc. v. Mendez, 48 Fla.L,Weekly D1121A (Fla. 5th DCA 2023) discusses the PROCEDURE for a party moving to amend their complaint to add punitive damages. In this case, the plaintiff appealed the trial court’s denial of the plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend to add punitive damages. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s denial and, in doing so, includes this worthy discussion on the procedure associated with moving to amend a complaint to seek punitive damages: Florida law requires the plaintiff to seek the trial court's permission before adding punitive damages to its complaint....

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Measure of Tort Damages in Civil Disputes

If you are filing a civil action, your case is generally about, and should generally be about, recovering damages. Sure, there may be exceptions where a party is seeking injunctive relief or a declaration, but mostly, civil disputes concern a party seeking monetary damages. When it comes to civil tort actions, remember this when it comes to the measure of damages: “In tort actions, the measure of damages [awarded] seeks to restore the victim to the position he would be in had the wrong not been committed.” Hollywood Imports Limited, Inc. v. Nationwide Financial Services, LLC, 48 Fla.L.Weekly D915a (Fla. 4th...

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Contract Interpretation; Force Majeure; Impossibility; Impracticability; Frustration of Purpose — All in One Case

Covid-19 created a number of hardships to businesses. No doubt about it. The case of Fitness International, LLC v. 93 FLRPT, LLC, 48 Fla.L.Weekly D947a (Fla. 2d DCA 2023) exemplifies one such hardship.  The issue in this case was how “government-ordered restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic impact[ed] the parties’ obligations under a commercial real estate lease.”  In essence, a gym--tenant--had a commercial lease. The gym sought a refund for a fifteen-week period that it was required to close or operate below full capacity due to government-imposed restrictions. Unfortunately for the gym, it lost its arguments under all theories from breach...

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