Case Law

La Cava Jacobson & Goodis

Florida Law Weekly – October 23, 2020

Tallahassee Housing Authority v. Prather – 1st DCA

In this case, the Trial Court, over the objections of Plaintiff’s counsel, limited voir dire examinations of potential jurors to 1 hour per side. After the jury returned a defense verdict, Plaintiff moved for a new trial arguing, in part, the trial court erroneously limited him to one hour of voir dire time. The Trial Court ultimately granted this motion. The 1st District Court of Appeal reversed the Trial Court’s decision to grant a new trial because Plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he was prejudiced by the limitation.

Vital Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Ohel – 4th DCA

In this case, the 4th District Court of Appeal held that the Trial Court departed from the essential requirements of law when it refused to consider whether an actual factual basis for punitive damages existed before deciding whether to limit, delay, or deny financial worth discovery. Defendant objected to the Plaintiff’s request for production of documents concerning financial worth on the basis that there had been no determination that a reasonable evidentiary basis for the recovery of punitive damages existed.

La Cava Jacobson & Goodis

Florida Law Weekly – October 16, 2020

Escadote I Corporation v. Ocean Three Condominium Association, Inc. – 3rd DCA

In this case, the Trial Court granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendant property manager regarding Plaintiff’s claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress stemming from alleged water intrusion due to a leaky roof in a condominium owned by Plaintiff. To maintain a cause of action, it must be shown that: (1) the wrongdoer’s conduct was intentional or reckless; (2) the conduct was outrageous; (3) the conduct caused emotional distress; and (4) the emotional distress was severe. The 3rd District Court of Appeal agreed with the Trial Court’s finding that there was no evidence indicating that Plaintiff was particularly susceptible to stress, nor was there any evidence that the Defendant property manager was in a position of power over the Plaintiff to sustain a claim. Therefore, no genuine issues of material fact existed and Defendant’s motion for summary judgment was properly granted.

Cavanaugh v. Stryker Corporation – 4th DCA

In this case, the 4th District Court of Appeal held that the Trial Court’s decision to allow one additional peremptory strike for replacing an excused juror with a duly selected alternate did not constitute an error that required a new trial because there was no “tactical gamesmanship” on the part of the Defendant. The 4th District Court of Appeal reasoned that parties are not entitled to have any particular jurors serve, rather they are entitled only to have qualified jurors. The Court noted that there have been numerous cases in which it was found that any error in removing a juror is harmless where the juror was replaced by a duly selected alternate who had been present during the entire proceedings and where no prejudice was shown to have resulted from the substitution.

State of Florida v. Torres – 4th DCA

In this case, the 4th District Court of Appeal held that even when messages are not obtained directly from the sender’s phone, electronic communications, like other traditional communications, may be authenticated by appearance, context, substance, internal patterns, or other distinctive characteristics taken in conjunction with the circumstances. Prior to trial, the Trial Court granted Defendant’s motion in limine to exclude screenshots because of insufficient evidence connecting the Defendant with the messages. The 4th District Court of Appeal reversed the Trial Court’s order, finding that the Trial Court erred because the authentication of screenshots of messages from an instant messaging app was satisfied by the victim’s ability to identify the Defendant as the sender of the messages based on his extensive history of texting the victim through the messaging application, the nickname he used as his screen name, and the content of the messages which referenced facts known only to the Defendant and the victim.

La Cava Jacobson & Goodis

Florida Law Weekly – October 2, 2020

R.R. v. New Life Community Church of CMA, Inc. – Supreme Court of Florida

In this case, the Supreme Court of Florida concluded that negligence and respondeat superior claims against an employer for sexual abuse accrue at the time of injury in a case where the alleged abuse occurred when the Plaintiff was a minor. Plaintiffs alleged that the sexual abuse they experienced as children by the Defendant was connected to and facilitated by his employment. As a result, Plaintiffs brought negligence and respondeat superior claims against the Defendant Church as well. The Church’s motion for summary judgment was granted because Plaintiffs’ claims against them accrued at the time of injury and were therefore untimely. The Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the 2nd DCA’s holding that unless otherwise stated within a statute, a cause of action accrues when its last element occurs.

La Cava & Jacobson, P.A.

Florida Law Weekly – April 5, 2019

Tabraue v. Dostors Hospital – 3rd DCA
In this wrongful death case, the Court held that there was no non-delegable duty existed in the context of a hospital providing non-negligent emergency care to patients via common law, statutes, express contracts or implied contracts. In rejecting the argument that a patient’s admission to an emergency room creates an implied contractual relationship with the hospital, the Court disagreed with contradictory holdings of the 4th District Court of Appeal and certified conflict.

Sentz and Geico v. Tracy – 5th DCA
In this case, the plaintiff was awarded attorneys fees and costs as a result of the defendants’ denial of requests for admissions. The requests sought an admission that the defendants acted negligently. The 5th District reversed, holding that requests for admissions that go to ultimate issues are improper.

La Cava & Jacobson, P.A.

Florida Law Weekly – March 29, 2019

Cruz v. Wal-Mart – 4th DCA
In this premises liability case, the Court reversed the Trial Court’s Order granting summary judgment in favor of Wal-Mart. The plaintiff, a 72-year-old man, tripped on a raised manhole cover and fell in a Wal-Mart parking lot at night, sustaining serious head trauma. .In doing so, the Court rejected the theories that there was no liability because: 1) the manhole was inspected and approved by government agencies; 2) the accident was not foreseeable because there were no prior similar events; and 3) the manhole was an open and obvious danger, negating any duty to warn. Ultimately, the Court found that issues of fact remained precluding summary judgment.