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Must be a Meeting of the Minds for there to be a Settlement

A settlement agreement is governed under the tenets of contract law – there needs to be a meeting of the minds for there to be a settlement.  Ideally, you want this meeting of the minds to be memorialized in writing in a settlement agreement.  However, what if it is not memorialized in a written settlement agreement? As is true of contracts generally, a settlement agreement is formed “only when one party makes an offer and another party accepts it.”  An acceptance sufficient to create an enforceable agreement “must be (1) absolute and unconditional; (2) identical with the terms of the offer;...

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Party Recovering Judgment Entitled to Recoverable Costs

Florida Statute s. 57.041(1) provides, “The party recovering judgment shall recover all his or her legal costs and charges which shall be included in the judgment; but this section does not apply to executors or administrators in actions when they are not liable for costs.”  Thus, in most cases, when it comes to the recovery of recoverable costs, if you obtain a judgment against the other party, you are entitled to such costs under section 57.041.   There is no analysis as to which party truly prevailed in the case (which is oftentimes the analysis when dealing with attorney's fees). See...

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Amended Complaints and the “Relation Back” Doctrine

There is a doctrine known as the “relation back” doctrine that refers to amended complaints and the statute of limitations.  Assume an original complaint was filed within the applicable statute of limitations.  Assume after the statute of limitations expired, an amended complaint is asserted with new claims.  Do the new claims in the amended complaint RELATE BACK to the original complaint so that the new claims are deemed filed within the statute of limitations?  The recent opinion in Mitchell v. Applebee’s Services, Inc., 44 Fla. L. Weekly D2443a (Fla. 1st DCA 2019) explains Florida’s liberal policy in answering this question: Whether...

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Uneven Floor Level Does Not, in of Itself, Support Premise Liability Claim

Does an uneven floor level, in of itself, support a premise liability claim?  No!  Uneven floor levels are not so uncommon.  The case of Contardi v. Fun Town, LLC, dealt with this issue in the context of an uneven floor at a skating rink – the difference between the skating rink floor and building’s subfloor.  A person was injured when exiting the skating rink to the building’s subfloor and, consequently, filed a premise liability lawsuit.   The owner of the skating rink was granted summary judgment and the summary judgment was affirmed on appeal finding that a premise liability claim did not...

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Improperly Moving to Set Aside the Verdict

Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.480 governs motions for directed verdict and motions to set aside the verdict and to enter judgment pursuant to the directed verdict: (a) Effect. A party who moves for a directed verdict at the close of the evidence offered by the adverse party may offer evidence in the event the motion is denied without having reserved the right to do so and to the same extent as if the motion had not been made. The denial of a motion for a directed verdict shall not operate to discharge the jury. A motion for a directed verdict shall...

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Considerations when Enforcing or Challenging Restrictive Covenant

A restrictive covenant that runs with the land places restrictions on the use of real property.  As a result, “restrictive covenants must be strictly construed in favor of the free and unrestricted use of real property” and, with respect to any ambiguity in the covenant, “must be construed against the party seeking to enforce it.”   Beach Towing Services, Inc. v. Sunset Land Associates, LLC, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2195a (Fla. 3d DCA 2019).  These are important things to remember when enforcing or challenging a restrictive covenant. For instance, in Beach Towing Services, the plaintiff purchased property that was subject to a restrictive covenant...

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Arbitration Provision Involving Non-Florida Entities and a Non-Florida Transaction

It is permissible for non-Florida persons/entities to agree to arbitration in Florida.  Such arbitration agreement will be enforceable and Florida courts can enforce the arbitration agreement even if the underlying transaction is conducted outside of Florida. Section 682.18(1) of Florida’s Arbitration Code provides in material part: The making of an agreement or provision for arbitration subject to this law and providing for arbitration in this state shall, made within or outside this state, confer jurisdiction on the court to enforce the agreement or provision under this law, to enter judgment on an award duly rendered in an arbitration thereunder and to vacate, modify...

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Apex Doctrine to Prevent Deposition of High Ranking Official in Corporate Context

There is a doctrine referred to as the Apex doctrine to prevent the deposition of a high ranking official.  The Apex doctrine stands for the proposition that “[an] agency head should not be subject to deposition, over objection, unless and until the opposing parties have exhausted other discovery and can demonstrate that the agency head is uniquely able to provide relevant information which cannot be obtained from other sources.”  Suzuki Motor Corp. v. Winckler, 44 Fla.L.Weekly D2219a (Fla. 1stDCA 2019) (citation omitted).   Stated another way: “[A] party seeking to depose a . . . high-ranking governmental official must demonstrate the personal involvement of the official in a material...

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Comply with the Dispute Resolution Provision in Your Contract

Many contracts have dispute resolution provisions.  If not, they should.  It is important that dispute resolution provisions are reviewed and complied with PRIOR TO the initiation of a dispute.  Failure to comply could result in you being “S*** Out of Luck” with your claim, as exemplified in the recent opinion in Guan v. Ellingsworth Residential Community Association, Inc., 44 Fla. L. Weekly D2155a (Fla. 5thDCA 2019).  This case involved a dispute between a homeowner and her homeowner’s association.  There was a Declaration of Covenants recorded in the public records.  The Declaration, no different than any Declaration, created a contract between a...

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Condominium Unit Owner Suing Condominium Unit Owner under Florida’s Condominium Act

If you are a condominium unit owner, you might find this to be of interest.   If you are not a condominium unit owner, you likely will not.  In a recent case, an issue was whether a particular provision of the Florida Condominium Act provided a private cause of action between unit owners.  Stated differently, the issue was whether one owner could sue another owner for a statutory violation.  The appellate court held it did not: “Nothing in the language of this [particular] statute or in the statutory structure indicates that a private cause of action between unit owners was contemplated by...

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