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ProveMyFloridaCase.com > Trial Perspectives (Page 27)

Asserting Punitive Damages (or Appealing the Decision to Allow for Punitive Damages)

So, you are interested in pursuing punitive damages. Then you MUST comply with the requirements of Florida Statute s. 768.72. This statute provides in relevant part: (1) In any civil action, no claim for punitive damages shall be permitted unless there is a reasonable showing by evidence in the record or proffered by the claimant which would provide a reasonable basis for recovery of such damages. The claimant may move to amend her or his complaint to assert a claim for punitive damages as allowed by the rules of civil procedure. The rules of civil procedure shall be liberally construed so...

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Just Say NO! to Frivolous Claims! Otherwise 57.105 May Apply!

As a lawyer, it is important to examine your client or prospective client regarding the facts of their case. In this manner, it is important to conduct legal research to support legal arguments, especially arguments applied to the facts. The bottom line is that you want to make sure you are NOT filing a frivolous claim or defense, which is typically one that (a) is NOT supported by material facts necessary to support the claim or defense or (b) NOT supported by the application of the law. See Fla. Stat. s. 57.105. If you do, you could be exposed to sanctions—be liable...

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Challenging Standard for Granting Directed Verdict

If there is a jury trial, there will be a motion for directed verdict. But, the standard for granting a motion for directed verdict is challenging; if the directed verdict is granted, an appeal will be filed arguing the trial court’s error in granting the directed verdict. James v. City of Tampa, 2016 WL 3201221 (Fla. 2d DCA 2016) was a personal injury action. The issue at trial was whether the plaintiff’s injuries from a car accident constituted a permanent injury (as this issue impacted damages to be awarded to the injured plaintiff). At the conclusion of all of the evidence, the...

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Trial Court’s Error is Harmless when there is No Reasonable Possibility Error Contributed to Verdict

Just because the trial court committed an error does NOT mean the error constitutes reversible error warranting a new trial. The trial court's error could very well be harmless error. When it comes to a trial court's error, the recipient of the error should prove that "there is no reasonable possibility that the error contributed to the verdict." Maines v. Fox, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D1062a (Fla. 1st DCA 2016) quoting Special v. W. Boca Med. Ctr., 160 So.3d 1251, 1256-57 (Fla. 2014). The trial court's error is harmless if the recipient of the error proves there is no reasonable possibility that the...

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Election of Remedies PRIOR to Final Judgment

Oftentimes, a plaintiff will plead alternative claims or theories of liability against a defendant(s).   Pleading in the alternative is allowed under Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.110(g).   The plaintiff is entitled to elect--between two mutually exclusive (alternative) remedies--the remedy it prefers any time prior to the entry of final judgment. See Liddle v. A.F. Dozer, Inc., 777 So.2d 421 (Fla. 4th DCA 2001); see also  Burr v. Norris, 667 So.2d 424, 426 (Fla. 2d DCA 1996) (“Plaintiffs are also allowed to plead inconsistent or alternative actions and need only elect remedies before final judgment.”) This allows the plaintiff to present...

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Prejudicial Closing Argument Could Result in Mistrial / New Trial

Closing argument is a very, very important part of jury trials to sum up the evidence in the context / theme of your case based on the applicable law. It is your last opportunity to talk directly to the jury about the theme of your case. Check out this article for the purpose of closing argument. While lawyers are afforded latitude in presenting closing argument, improper and prejudicial argument could result in an appellate court granting a new trial. The opposing party must, however, timely object to the improper and prejudicial argument in order to properly preserve this objection for...

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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 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 so fast...

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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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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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