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ProveMyFloridaCase.com > Trial Perspectives (Page 26)

(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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Prejudgment Interest and Post-judgment Interest

Prejudgment interest is routinely a component of a claimant’s monetary damages.   The claimant wants prejudgment interest on the principal amount due and owing. If no interest rate is set forth in the claimant’s contract, then the interest will accrue at the statutory rate. Then, once a judgment is entered, post-judgment interest will accrue on the judgment until it is paid.   See Florida Statute s. 55.03. Florida’s statutory interest rate is set by the Chief Financial Officer and published here. For instance, the current statutory interest rate is 4.75% per annum (and it has been 4.75% for numerous years). This translates to a...

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Proposals for Settlement when there is a Contractual or Statutory Basis for Attorney’s Fees

In an earlier posting I talked about proposals for settlement / offers of judgment.   Again, these are used as a vehicle to create an argument for attorney’s fees down the road, particularly in cases where a party does not have a contractual or statutory basis to recover attorney’s fees. Please check out this article for more information on proposals for settlement because they have become an unnecessarily complicated vehicle with nuances that have resulted in an exorbitant amount of case law. As a result, while the argument to recover fees is preserved by serving the proposal for settlement, it is...

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The Simple, All-or-Nothing Verdict Form

Attention should be given to the verdict form you want the jury to fill out after listening to and seeing the evidence presented in the case. This verdict form dictates how the jury decides the facts in your case in the context of the theme of your case and the jury instructions. Needless to say, the verdict form is very, very important! There are times when a party may want a simple, all-or-nothing verdict form. A party may like this (such as the plaintiff) versus a special interrogatory form that contains numerous potentially confusing questions the jury is asked to answer. For...

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Actions for Declaratory Relief / Declaratory Judgment

Sometimes a party pursues what is known as an action for declaratory relief or declaratory judgment– for a trial court to declare their rights with respect to the application of a written document or instrument. In this manner, Florida Statute s. 86.021 states: Any person claiming to be interested or who may be in doubt about his or her rights under a deed, will, contract, or other article, memorandum, or instrument in writing or whose rights, status, or other equitable or legal relations are affected by a statute, or any regulation made under statutory authority, or by municipal ordinance, contract, deed,...

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Foundation Required to Admit Prior Inconsistent Statement

One of the most effective impeachment vehicles to attack the credibility of a testifying witness is the prior inconsistent statement. A prior inconsistent statement is exactly what it seems – a statement previously made by the witness on a material issue that directly contradicts with what the witness is testifying to at trial.  The point of impeaching the witness with the prior inconsistent statement is to show the witness’ trial testimony is not credible—they are lying.   By attacking the credibility, you leave doubts in the trier of fact’s mind (e.g., jury) that the witness’ trial testimony needs to be discounted...

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Leading Questions Forming Basis of Appeal

During a direct examination at trial, a party will always tiptoe on the fine line of asking the witness leading questions in order to elicit the desired testimony.  Leading questions, in most circumstances, are objectionable during direct examination because it allows the lawyer asking questions to basically testify while leading the witness to the answer he or she is seeking.   Look, a lawyer will ask leading questions if he/she can get away with it—until the trial court sustains objections.  But, just because a trial court sustains an objection does not necessarily mean the lawyer will stop asking leading questions during direct...

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Avoiding the Mistrial

If you prevailed at trial, there is nothing worse than a mistrial. Talking about taking the wind out of your sails. It happens. Unfortunately. Boyles, Personal Representative vs. Dillard’s Inc., 41 Fla.L.Weekly D1709a (Fla. 1st DCA 2016), is a case where the defense prevailed, but on appeal, the court granted a mistrial for multiple (or cumulative) reasons, only two of which will be discussed below. Both reasons, however, could have been avoided. A. Closing Argument   First, during closing argument, the defense counsel tried to attack the credibility of the plaintiff’s trial testimony by bringing up what the plaintiff testified to during her deposition....

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Illegality of Contract as Affirmative Defense

There is an affirmative defense known as “illegality of contract.”   Under this defense, the defendant is claiming that performance under its contract became illegal to perform; thus, the defendant should be excused from further performance. Just like any affirmative defense, the burden is on the defendant to prove the illegality of contract. See Novak v. Gray, 469 Fed. Appx. 811, 813-14 (11th Cir. 2012) (defendant has burden of proving defense of illegality of contract). An example of the application of this defense can be found in the dispute between a commercial landlord and its tenant in Lucas Games, Inc. v. Morris...

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