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Value of Severability Clause

Severability clauses have become fairly commonplace in contracts.  Cut and paste provisions.  However, these clauses can provide tremendous value.  A sample of a severability clause is as follows: If any provision of this Agreement, the deletion of which would not adversely affect the receipt of any material benefit by or in favor of any party or substantially increase the burden of any party to this Agreement, shall be held to be invalid or unenforceable to any extent, the same shall not affect in any respect whatsoever the validity or enforceability of the remainder of this Agreement. There are numerous ways to draft...

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Risk in Purchasing Property Subject to a Pending Foreclosure and Lis Pendens

When real property is the subject to a pending foreclosure action where there is a lis pendens (a formal notice), a buyer that purchases the property does so at his own risk because he is on notice that the property is subject to the foreclosure action [through the lis pendens]. Bymel v. Bank of America, N.A., 159 So.3d 345, 346 (Fla. 3d DCA 2015). The buyer is not permitted to intervene in the pending foreclosure action. See id. at 346-47. In a recent case, The Bank of New York Mellon v. HOA Rescue Fund, LLC, 43 Fla.L.Weekly D1312b (Fla. 2d DCA 2018),...

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General Understanding of Collateral Estoppel and Res Judicata

There are two similarly related legal doctrines known as collateral estoppel and res judicata.   The doctrines are designed to prevent a party from re-litigating either a prior issue (collateral estoppel) or claim (res judicata).  These doctrines are generally discussed below regarding the elements (in the case of collateral estoppel) or the identities (in the case of res judicata) required to support their application.   Keep in mind that these are nuanced legal doctrines and a party should consult with counsel to determine the application of these doctrines which are typically raised as an affirmative defense in a lawsuit.   Collateral Estoppel =...

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Preserving an Objection for Appeal

Preserving an objection for appeal.  Preserving an objection for appeal.  Preserving an objection for appeal.  Repeat again and again, because this is important.  The lack of preservation of an objection is demonstrated in a criminal trial, Pierre v. Florida,  43 Fla.L.Weekly D1110b (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), which involved man wearing a ski-mask attempting to kill his ex-wife.  Of course, his ex-wife and son saw his face, but there was other evidence to support the attempted murder.   The jury found that the man was guilty of attempted murder. An issue on appeal dealt with the scope of an expert's testimony that tied...

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Injunctive Relief + Attorney’s Fees Awarded in Favor of an Owner and Against Her Association

Here is a case that may give associations some degree of consternation.  I think it should because it supports permanent injunctive relief against an association to comply with its governing documents when managing or maintaining a surface water management system / stormwater management system.   This case, discussed below, would extend beyond a surface water management system to any covenant in the governing documents.   In Coconut Creek Homeowner's Association, Inc. v. Gonzalez,  43 Fla.L.Weekly D1045a (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), a homeowner sued her homeowner's association for failing to manage the association's surface water management system.  The homeowner sued the association...

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Mid-litigation Monetary Settlement with Co-Defendant

I recently discussed a doctrine that applies in negligence cases known as the undertaker's doctrine.  Some may also call this the no good deed goes unpunished doctrine.  Just kidding; but, this undertaker's doctrine maintains that if you undertake a service, i.e., a good deed, you must do so with reasonable care as you assumed a duty to prevent the beneficiary of that service from harm.   For instance, a tenant sued the owner of the condominium he (and his family) was renting and his real estate agent for water intrusion and mold problems in the unit.  The tenant claimed the real...

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Florida’s Uniform Trade Secrets Act cannot be used to Restrict Competition

Florida's Uniform Trade Secrets Act is contained in Florida Statutes Chapter 688.  This Act authorizes  courts to take reasonable steps to preserve the confidentiality of trade secrets including ordering injunctive relief to prevent a party (such as a former employee) from misappropriating trade secrets.  Norton v. American LED Technology, Inc., 43 Fla.L.Weekly D951a (Fla. 1st DCA 2018).   However, as confirmed by the First District in Norton, Florida's Uniform Trade Secrets Act cannot be used as a sword to restrict or stifle direct competition.  In other words, it is improper for a trial court to issue a temporary injunction restricting direct...

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A New Trial is Not Automatically Warranted when Jury Renders what a Plaintiff Perceives to be an Inadequate Jury Verdict

Juries do not always award huge jury verdicts in favor of plaintiffs in personal injury actions. Sure, sometimes they definitely do. But it is also true that sometimes they do not. Juries can find that the (i) defendant was not liable, (ii) the plaintiff was comparatively liable, or (iii) that the plaintiff's damages were relatively minor. As to the latter two points, this was the issue in Black v. Cohen, 43 Fla. L. Weekly D903e (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), involving an automobile accident, where the trial court granted plaintiff's motion for a new trial based on an inadequate jury verdict....

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Summary Judgment Entered in Favor of Defendant on Equitable Subrogation Claim

I recently wrote an article how there are times when a party is seeking reimbursement for solely economic losses, their best recourse is an equitable subrogation claim.   The article also discusses the application of equitable subrogation dealing with an actual fact pattern. Equitable subrogation, you say?  In an equitable subrogation claim, a party pays for damages (or a debt) it believes were caused by another party.  The party then pursues reimbursement against the party it believes primarily responsible for the damages or debt.  No one wants to pay for damages or a debt it believes were caused by a third...

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