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ProveMyFloridaCase.com > Trial Perspectives (Page 25)

Strategic Reasons for Serving a “Good Faith” Proposal for Settlement

You know how proposals for settlement / offers of judgment ("proposals for settlement") work because I previously wrote about this topic. You know that such proposals for settlement need to be made in good faith. Remember, proposals for settlement create the argument to recover attorney's fees from the date the proposal for settlement is served on forward. The recent case of Key West Seaside, LLC v. Certified Lower Keys Plumbing, Inc., 40 Fla. L. Weekly D2052b (Fla. 3d DCA 2015), exemplifies a defendant relying on a proposal for settlement.  In this case, a defendant served the plaintiff with a proposal for settlement....

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Recoverable / Taxable Costs to the Prevailing Party

  When a party prevails in litigation, the party should be entitled to recover its “costs” incurred in connection with the litigation. This is different than that party’s attorney’s fees. See Fla. Stat. s. 57.041 (“The party recovering judgment shall recover all his or her legal costs and charges which shall be included in the judgment.”). While the taxable or recoverable costs a party is entitled to is within the discretion of the trial court, there are important guidelines to be followed known as the Statewide Uniform Guidelines for Taxation of Costs in Civil Actions. See Fla.R.Civ.P. Taxation of Costs. The guidelines set...

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Asking the Witness Leading Questions (that Suggest the Intended Answer)

  A leading question is a question asked of a witness that already suggests the witness’ answer. A leading question is asked by a lawyer to clue the witness to the intended answer he/she is seeking from the witness. Florida Statute s. 90.612(3) states: “Leading questions should not be used on the direct examination of a witness except as may be necessary to develop the witness's testimony. Ordinarily, leading questions should be permitted on cross-examination. When a party calls a hostile witness, an adverse party, or a witness identified with an adverse party, interrogation may be by leading questions.” This means that leading questions...

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Impeaching (Attacking Witness’s Credibility) with a Prior Inconsistent Statement

  Impeachment is the art of attacking a testifying witness's credibility or truthfulness at trial.  One of the most common forms of impeachment during cross-examination at trial is with a prior inconsistent statement, such as deposition or affidavit testimony. The objective of impeachment is to establish that the witness is not a trustworthy witness, hence the reason it is referred to as attacking the witness’s credibility!  A prior inconsistent statement made by a testifying witness is a great way to attack that witness’s credibility at trial. See Elmer v. State, 114 So.3d 198, 202 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012). (“It is axiomatic...

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Jury Trial Considerations: Directed Verdict and the Verdict Form

Previously, I discussed a motion for directed verdict and, then, a motion to set aside a jury’s verdict. This is an important procedural vehicle to know because a party opposing a claim generally always moves for a direct verdict. In some instances, the court reserves ruling on the directed verdict to see how the jury decides the case. If the jury enters a verdict in favor of the party moving for a directed verdict (e.g., the defendant) then the court does not need to rule on the motion for directed verdict (it becomes moot). Recently, I wrote an article about a...

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Purpose of Closing Argument

  We talked about the purpose of opening statements. Now, let’s talk about the purpose of closing argument. One of my favorite all-time shows is Law and Order. Jack McCoy can certainly deliver a closing argument like no other where the purpose of his closing argument always seems abundantly clear.  The purpose of closing argument is to help the jury understand the evidence presented to the law. See Murphy v. International Robotic Systems, Inc., 766 So.2d 1010 (Fla. 2000).   It serves as the final opportunity for the lawyer to fully connect his/her client’s theme of the case (possibly explained during opening) based on...

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Purpose of Opening Statements

  We’ve all seen movies that reflect the power of an opening statement.   Remember the movies “The Devil’s Advocate” or “Philadelphia” or “A Few Good Men?”   All of these show powerful opening statements with a purpose.  Remember the movie "My Cousin Vinny?"  This movie does not reflect a powerful opening statement with a purpose, although it sure is funny!   “The purpose of opening statements is to outline what an attorney expects the evidence will establish, and control of opening statements is within the trial court’s discretion.” Bush v. State, 809 So.2d 107, 118 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002). The opening statement allows a party’s...

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A Civil Action – Great Movie Regarding “Proving Your Case”

The movie A Civil Action is a great movie about the trials and tribulations of a lawsuit and, importantly, the challenges in proving YOUR case.  Enjoy these clips and please check out the movie.     Please contact David Adelstein at dadelstein@gmail.com or (954) 361-4720 if you have questions or would like more information regarding this article. You can follow David Adelstein on Twitter @DavidAdelstein1....

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Considerations Involving Proposals for Settlement / Offers for Judgment

There needs to be a contractual or statutory basis in order to be entitled to recover your reasonable attorneys' fees at trial. See Cadenhead v. Gaetz, 677 So.2d 96, 97 (Fla. 1st DCA 1996). This means either the contract needs to support a basis for the party to recover attorney’s fees (such as a prevailing party attorneys’ fees provision or a contractual indemnification provision that authorizes attorneys’ fees) or there needs to be a statute that authorizes you to recover reasonable attorneys' fees. Absent these bases, there is generally no basis to recover attorneys' fees. However, there is a vehicle under...

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Using Demonstrative Aids or Exhibits at Trial

It is common to use demonstrative aids or exhibits at trial. These are exhibits (e.g., models, diagrams, charts, photographs, etc.) that are used to help explain or illustrate testimony or other evidence. The operative word is “help” because these exhibits need to help explain the testimony and help the trier of fact in understanding the testimony. These exhibits, however, are for demonstrative purposes only and do not constitute substantive evidence. No different than evidentiary exhibits, the probative value of a demonstrative exhibit must outweigh any prejudice to the adverse party. Regarding the use of demonstrative evidence, the Florida Supreme Court stated: “Demonstrative...

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