City of Coral Gables v. Blanco – (3rd DCA)
In this case, the Court held that it did not have jurisdiction to review a non-final Order where the Trial Court found that the City, as a matter of law, was not entitled to sovereign immunity at the Motion to Dismiss stage. The Trial Court found that the City failed to establish that sovereign immunity was self-evident under the facts as pled. This case reinforces the standing rule of the Courts of Appeal that at the Motion to Dismiss stage, sovereign immunity is not an appealable issue unless the Trial Court holds, as a matter of law, that the party is not entitled to sovereign immunity.
Rodriguez v. Nicolitz, M.D. – (1st DCA)
In this medical malpractice case, the Rodriguez Court held that the Trial Court properly dismissed an action against an ophthalmologist upon finding that the Affidavit of the Plaintiff’s expert, an infectious disease specialist, was inadequate to satisfy pre-suit notice requirements. The Rodriguez Court specifically found that the expert did not practice in the same specialty as the Defendant.
Rodriguez v. City of South Miami – (3rd DCA)
In this case, utilizing its Certiorari jurisdiction, the Rodriguez Court, reversed a Trial Court Order compelling the Plaintiff to sign a document authorizing the release of his mental health records to the Defendant. The Rodriguez Court held that the records were protected by the psychotherapist-patient privilege and the City failed to show that the Plaintiff placed his mental health status at issue. In its opinion, the Rodriguez Court looked to Florida Statute § 90.503(2) which establishes the privilege. The City’s argument with respect to entitlement was that the Plaintiff had filed a Motion to Dissolve a Temporary Restraining Order and in paperwork the Plaintiff noted that he was stable and taking his medication. The Rodriguez Court found that this statement alone did not permit the waiver of the privilege.
Domino’s Pizza v. Wiederhold – (5th DCA)
In this wrongful death case, the Court held that a statutory survivor and specifically, a surviving spouse, in order to be qualified to bring the suit and to receive benefits pursuant to Florida law, needed to be married to the decedent at the time of his death and not at the time of the injury.
Lamb v. State – (4th DCA)
In this case, the Lamb Court addressed whether a Facebook live video was admissible in the criminal context as evidence of guilt. The Court went through a detailed analysis with respect to how the video was obtained by the police, as well as presented at trial. Specifically, the State introduced the testimony of a police digital forensic examiner to authenticate the video. As part of this process, the witness authenticated the video by its distinctive characteristics.
The Lamb Court held that the Trial Court properly authenticated and allowed the video to be presented to the jury. The Lamb Court recognized that authentication is a very low threshold which was met by the witness visiting the Facebook page and downloading the live video.
Saterbo v. Markuson (Fla. 2d DCA): In this automobile accident case, the Court addressed the enforceability of a joint proposal for settlement. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the driver of the car for direct negligence and the owner of the vehicle, which is a vicarious liability claim. The proposal for settlement did not apportion the amount due to each defendant. The Trial Court denied the plaintiff’s request for attorneys’ fees pursuant to the proposal for settlement, finding that the failure to apportion violated Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.442. The Trial Court also found that the proposal was ambiguous because it failed to account for the fact that there was a statutory liability cap of damages applicable to the vehicle owner, thus making it impossible to decide whether or not to accept it.
The Second District Court of Appeal reversed, citing to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.442(c)(4) which provides that, ““when a party is alleged to be solely vicariously … liable, whether by operation of law or by contract, a joint proposal made by or served on such a party need not state the apportionment or contribution as to that party.” The defendants argued that because the owner could be held liable for amounts above the statutory cap, the owner’s liability was not solely vicarious and therefore, Rule 1.442(c)(4) did not apply. The Second District disagreed, stating, “The focus of the exception contained in rule 1.442(c)(4) is not whether a party is liable for the full amount of damages, but rather, it is whether the claims against the party are direct claims or solely claims of vicarious or other forms of indirect liability.” The Second District also disagreed that the proposal was ambiguous because of the cap, relying on the finding of the Florida Supreme Court in State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Nichols, 932 So.2d 1067, 1079 (Fla.2006), where it recognized that with proposals for settlement, “it may not be possible to eliminate all ambiguity and, therefore, that the rule ‘merely requires that the settlement proposal be sufficiently clear and definite to allow the offeree to make an informed decision without needing clarification.’”