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ProveMyFloridaCase.com > Trial Perspectives (Page 23)

Strict Construction of Condominium and Homeowner Association’s Declarations

Do you live in a condominium or in a homeowner’s association? If so, then you know you are governed by a Declaration of Condominium (in the case of condominium unit ownership) or a Declaration of Covenants (in the case of home ownership).  Please review these in addition to any amendments that may modify any of the paragraphs or covenants. These are recorded in the official, public records where the condominium or homes are located. So, you can obtain these documents online with ease.  Declarations are covenants running with the land operating as a contract between the governing association and owners. See Woodside...

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Don’t Neglect Mediation!

I believe in the process of mediation for all disputes, particularly complicated factual business disputes. I use the word "process" because that is what mediation really is – a series of actions to achieve a particular end. Mediation can be a tiring process. A frustrating process. An informative process. A continuing process. A result-oriented process. In certain instances, a futile process. Oftentimes, mediation is a mixture of all of the above. Mediation allows parties to make a business decision based on their perception of risk -- the risk of losing or the risk of damages award (greater or lesser than...

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Timely Filing Motion for Attorney’s Fees and Costs

Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.525 provides: Any party seeking a judgment taxing costs, fees, or both shall serve a motion no later than 30 days after filing of the judgment, including a judgment of dismissal, or the service of a notice of voluntary dismissal, which judgment or notice concludes the action as to that party. This is a specific statutory time period and a motion for rehearing does NOT toll this 30 day period. Jackson v. Anthony, 39 So.3d 1285, 1286 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010). This means that a motion for a final judgment taxing attorney’s fees and costs must be made...

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A Contractual Waiver of the Right to Challenge Venue is Enforceable

Many contracts contain a forum selection provision or a venue provision.   Contracts may even contain language that parties agree not to challenge or otherwise waive the venue of any filed lawsuit. An example of such a provision was included in an operating agreement: This Agreement is to be construed and governed by the laws of the State of Florida (without giving effect to principles of conflicts of laws). Each party hereto irrevocably agrees that any legal action or proceeding arising out of or in connection with this Agreement may be brought in any state or federal court located in Florida (or in...

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Impeachment as to Prior Crimes in Civil Trials

In a civil trial, I want to attack (impeach) the credibility of a testifying witness by bringing up a crime that witness committed. Can I do this? When it comes to impeaching the credibility of a witness based on crimes, Florida Statute s. 90.610 states in material part: (1) A party may attack the credibility of any witness, including an accused, by evidence that the witness has been convicted of a crime if the crime was punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of 1 year under the law under which the witness was convicted, or if the crime involved dishonesty or...

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Do I or Do I Not File a Reply to Affirmative Defenses?

I’ll be the first to tell you that I seldom file a reply to affirmative defenses unless I am truly looking to avoid an affirmative defense – I have a defense to the defense. When I do file a reply, it is typically specific and catered to a specific defense (again, a specific defense to a specific affirmative defense). This is an important consideration and not filing a reply and specifically avoiding a defense (when you have a defense to the defense) can be problematic as an insured recently found out in an insurance coverage dispute.  Thus, if you have an...

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Quick Note: An Ambiguous Agreement will Lead to Admissibility of Parol Evidence

In an earlier article I explained that parol evidence (extrinsic evidence) is inadmissible to determine the intent of an unambiguous agreement. The corollary is that parol evidence is admissible to determine the intent of an ambiguous agreement. Naturally, parties want their agreements to be clear—crystal clear—to avoid any argument regarding an ambiguity. For example, in a recent case, a commercial lease was deemed ambiguous regarding the tenant’s lease rate. As a result, the landlord could not ram its commercial eviction claim through the court due to what it claimed to be the tenant not paying the right lease rate. Instead, evidence needed...

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Recoverability of Expert Witness Fees in Federal Court

Many litigants are unaware that testifying expert costs are not automatically recoverable in federal court like they are in state court.   Expert witness fees / costs are not an automatic taxable costs.   28 U.S.C. s. 1920 discusses taxable costs. 28 U.S.C. s. 1821 discusses a witness’ per diem costs of $40/day for each day’s attendance. See 28 U.S.C. 1821(2)(b) (“A witness shall be paid an attendance fee of $40 per day for each day's attendance. A witness shall also be paid the attendance fee for the time necessarily occupied in going to and returning from the place of attendance at the...

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(Extract on) Business Judgment Rule

Directors that serve on a board owe a fiduciary duty to their company and members. Directors are generally protected from personal liability for decisions they make by what is known as the business judgment rule. See Fla. Stat. s. 607.0830 (“(5) A director is not liable for any action taken as a director, or any failure to take any action, if he or she performed the duties of his or her office in compliance with this section.”); see also Florida Statute s. 617.0834 (regarding directors that serve on a nonprofit board).   These are very important statutes (607.0830 and 617.0834) for...

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Prevailing Party for Purposes of Attorney’s Fees in Breach of Contract Claims

To be entitled to attorney’s fees, there needs to be a contractual or statutory basis to recover attorney’s fees (absent serving a proposal for settlement). There is oftentimes the misconception in breach of contract cases that the party that recovers a positive net judgment will automatically recover their attorney’s fees. While, certainly, sometimes this is the case, this is NOT what you should be banking on. The law has tried to progress to a point where it does not want certain cases to be driven solely by the prospect of recovering attorney’s fees just because you won $1.   The Florida Supreme Court in Moritz v....

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