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Appealing a Discovery Order Requiring the Production of Work Product

A party moves for a petition for a writ of certiorari when appealing a discovery order.  “To obtain a writ of certiorari, the petitioner must establish that the discovery order was a departure from the essential requirements of law resulting in a material injury that will affect the remainder of the proceedings below and the injury cannot be corrected on appeal.” Onward Living Recovery Community, LLC v. Mormeneo, 46 Fla.L.Weekly D637a (Fla. 3d DCA 2021).  One example of “material injury,” otherwise referred to as “irreparable harm” is when the trial court orders the production of work product material (protected material prepared...

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Non-Signatory Compelling Arbitration based on Equitable Estoppel

Many times, parties will prefer to arbitrate their disputes instead of litigate their disputes.  Because arbitration is a creature of contract, an arbitration provision must be included in the parties’ contract.  There are pros and cons to arbitration and it is important to discuss these pros and cons with your counsel when negotiating a contract that includes an arbitration provision.  The pros and cons may change over time.  (For example, in this COVID-19 world, there are pros with arbitration that did not exist before the COVID-19 pandemic.)  Notwithstanding, there are instances where a non-signatory to the contract with the arbitration provision...

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Procedure Over Substance when it comes to Temporary Injunction Order

The recent case of Phelan, Jr. v. TriFactor Solutions, LLC, 2021 WL 833515 (Fla. 2d DCA 2021) involves a temporary injunction issued in a noncompete case where the appellate court started off its decision saying, “In some cases, procedure precedes substance. This is one of those cases.”  A good ole procedure over substance matter!  In this case, regardless of the substance, the trial court issued a temporary injunction order.  But the order, i.e., the procedure in issuing the injunction, was wrong for two fundamental reasons. First, the order failed to include specific factual findings from the evidentiary hearing to satisfy the...

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Proposals for Settlements and Attaching Releases

I have discussed proposals for settlement (also known as offers of judgment) in a number of prior articles.  A proposal for settlement is a procedural vehicle used to facilitate a settlement and create a basis to recover attorney’s fees from the date of the proposal on forward if the proposal for settlement is not accepted and the net judgment comes within a certain amount.  Serving a proposal for settlement, and the strategic timing if one is served, should be discussed with your counsel.  It should also be discussed with counsel the pros and cons of rejecting a proposal for settlement...

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Dismissal due to Fraud on the Court Post-Jury Verdict — Not Soooooo Fast

Oftentimes, people use the term “fraud on the court” without truly recognizing the difficulties in getting a case dismissed--the harshest of sanctions--especially in a circumstance where the jury already rendered a verdict.  Upon learning of the facts supporting “fraud on the court,” the appropriate motions should be filed during the course of the case because there are a number of remedies that can be employed short of dismissing a case with prejudice. While in appellate court will review a dismissal due to fraud on the court under an abuse of discretion standard of review, this does not mean that a trial...

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Special Venue Rule in Breach of Contract Actions Known as Debtor-Creditor Rule

There is a special venue rule known as the debtor-creditor rule, which applies in limited circumstances in breach of contract actions.  The debtor-creditor rule provides that if “a cause of action [is] based on failure to pay money due under a contract and the contract does not expressly provide a place of payment, it is implied that the debtor must seek the creditor and payment is to be made where the creditor resides.” Magic Wok International, Inc. v. Li, 706 So.2d 372, 374 (Fla. 5th DCA 1998).  This rule, importantly, ONLY applies when dealing with a liquidated debt; it does...

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Do Not Overlook Reviewing the Forum Selection Provision in the Contract

Many contracts contain what is known as a forum selection provision.  This provision may state that disputes arising out of the contract MUST be brought in the exclusive venue of a specific county or state. Do not overlook this provision because this provision is enforceable and will likely dictate where you will need to file suit in the event of a dispute.  For instance, if you have a contract for services performed in Miami-Dade County, Florida (or you live in that County, or is receiving goods in that County), you may not want to agree to litigate disputes arising from...

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Expert Cannot Serve as Conduit for Inadmissible Evidence / Hearsay

The law allows an expert to rely on hearsay when formulating expert opinions, but an expert cannot serve as a conduit for inadmissible evidence / hearsay.  This point is discussed in the wrongful death action, Dayes v. Werner Enterprises, Inc., 46 Fla.L.Weekly D233b (Fla. 3d DCA 2021), a case that resulted in a defense verdict that was reversed on appeal.  The case involved a tractor-trailer backing up and killing someone. The plaintiff (the estate of the deceased person) raised an issue on appeal that it was error for the trial court to allow a detective to testify “that another officer...

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Florida Supreme Court says No! – Extra-Contractual Damages cannot be Recovered against Property Insurer Absent Bad Faith Claim

Can an insured recover extra-contractual, consequential damages from its property insurer without pursuing a separate bad faith claim against the insurer?   The Florida Supreme Court, quashing an order of a lower appellate court, held NO!:  [W]e conclude that extra-contractual, consequential damages are not available in a first-party breach of insurance contract action because the contractual amount due to the insured is the amount owed pursuant to the express terms and conditions of the policy. Extra-contractual damages are available in a separate bad faith action pursuant to section 624.155 but are not recoverable in this action against Citizens because Citizens is statutorily...

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Discovery Appeal by Non-Party in Dispute

Discovery disputes do not always go your way.  You win some. You lose some. In losing a discovery dispute, it could give rise to an appeal through a petition for a writ of certiorari.  Obviously, this is not an easy appeal but, certainly, there are instances where the trial court issues a discovery ruling that gives rise to irreparable harm supporting the basis for certiorari.  This discovery ruling may be against a party, or in certain cases, a non-party. “To invoke the certiorari jurisdiction of this court, a petitioner must demonstrate a departure from the essential requirements of the law which...

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