September 14, 2021
August 19, 2021
Peter Baumberger - Construction Law, Litigation – Construction, Mass Tort Litigation / Class Actions – Defendants
Caryn Bellus - Appellate Practice
Brad McCormick - Commercial Litigation, Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
Charles Watkins - Litigation – Insurance, Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants
Angela Flowers - Appellate Practice
Betsy Gallagher - Appellate Practice
Laurie Adams - Personal Injury Litigation - Defendants
Michael Carney - Litigation - Insurance
Jane Rankin - Real Estate Law
Recognition by Best Lawyers is based entirely on peer review. Their methodology is designed to capture, as accurately as possible, the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area.
Best Lawyers employs a sophisticated, conscientious, rational, and transparent survey process designed to elicit meaningful and substantive evaluations of the quality of legal services. Their belief has always been that the quality of a peer review survey is directly related to the quality of the voters.
July 1, 2021
Certified Priority Restoration (CPR) had executed an assignment of benefits with the insured, with a term of the assignment stating it was operating “as a direct request to (Citizens) for approval to exceed” the $3,000.00 policy limit for Reasonable Emergency Measures coverage.
This document was transmitted to Citizens as part of 18 separate documents sent by CPR, with no specific attention drawn to the provision and no attempt to formally request to exceed the $3,000.00 cap as required by the policy.
The appellate court found CPR’s “request” to be a “gotcha tactic” which is not permitted under Florida law. Therefore, Citizens was under no duty to pay CPR above and beyond the policy cap for Reasonable Emergency Measures. Read case here.
July 1, 2021
June 30, 2021
On June 29, 2021 the Governor withheld his approval and officially vetoed the bill.
June 24, 2021
June 23, 2021
The new law provides:
An insurer may exclude an individual for all claims and/or lawsuits arising out of operation of a motor vehicle for the following coverages:
- Bodily injury
- Property damage
- Uninsured motorist
- Any other coverage which is not required by law to be purchased
In order to exclude a person:
- The named insured must identify the individual on the declaratory page and/or an endorsement (the named insured cannot be excluded)
- The named insured must consent in writing to exclude the person
- An excluded driver must establish, maintain, and show proof of financial ability to respond for damages arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the motor vehicle as required by Chapter 324, Fla. Stat., and maintain security as required by §627.733, Fla. Stat.
An insurer can not exclude coverage:
- For the named insured
- For an identified individual who is injured while not operating a motor vehicle
- For any person excluded solely because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, or handicap
- If the exclusion is not consistent with the insurer’s underwriting filed pursuant to §627.0651(13)(a), Fla. Stat.
Section 627.736, Fla. Stat., (the PIP statute) was amended to allow this exclusion in PIP policies.
Potential issues to consider before denying coverage for an excluded individual:
- Verify the excluded person is listed on the declaratory page or on an endorsement
- Verify there is written consent from the named insured for the exclusion. This is likely going to be similar to a UM coverage rejection/selection form
- Verify proof of financial ability to respond to damages for the excluded person were in fact established and maintained
The new law takes effect July 1, 2021.
For more information and/or questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
June 14, 2021
Heather Eres v. Progressive Am. Ins. Co., No. 20-11006, 8:17-cv-02354-TPB-SPF (11th Cir. 2021)
- Upon being notified of an accident where plaintiff was severely injured and her son was killed, the insurer immediately tendered its policy limits to plaintiff’s attorney, who was not ready “to receive the checks.”
- The court found that the insurer remained diligent in following up regarding the tender.
- Plaintiff later communicated through new counsel a desire to accept settlement with certain conditions, including an affidavit from the tortfeasor and a release without indemnity or hold harmless language.
- The insurer complied with all demands but while the release did not have indemnity language, it contained a waiver of subrogation which plaintiff found to be overbroad and not to comply with her demand to settle.
- The settlement was never effectuated, and plaintiff recovered $10 million following a jury trial -- then filed a bad faith suit.
- The Eleventh Circuit, affirming the Middle District of Florida, found the insurer did not act in bad faith.
- With regard to the release, the Court held the totality of the circumstances, including the fact that the insurer told plaintiff’s counsel in writing that the disputed language could be stricken from the release, relieved the insurer of any bad faith liability.
June 10, 2021
Successful summer clerks will be considered for associate positions upon graduation and bar admission. This summer we welcome: Alec Ede, Tatiana Hernandez, Victoria Scotti, Keani Knight-Walker, James Cox, Wallace Stage, Erika Funderburk, Marissa Zink, Fabiola Meo, and Jordan Weinberg!
For more information about our program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 7, 2021
In addition to providing mediation services, Teresa successfully represents insurers and their policyholders in a variety of matters including: Personal Injury Protection (PIP), first party property, fraud/SIU and automobile liability. For any questions, please contact Teresa at 850.436.7313 or email@example.com.
June 1, 2021
In the spirit of Pride, we invite you to join us in exploring more about the celebration and its origin and in learning about organizations working to eliminate discrimination, advocate for equality and provide access to health care and social support. https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/
May 28, 2021
As a newcomer to the list, we are honored to have stepped in at #5 out of 200 firms surveyed nationwide. This recognition is an attestation to our commitment and belief that a diverse team is a stronger, more vibrant one. And, that we strive to foster a workplace that is dedicated to recruiting, developing and retaining diverse talent.
We look forward to continue encouraging excellence by maintaining an environment where all our employees feel empowered to do their best.
May 25, 2021
May 24, 2021
Fourth District Rejects Efforts to Introduce a Plaintiff’s Total Billed Medical Expenses When Medicare Paid a Reduced Amount
In Gulfstream Park Racing Ass’n, Inc. d/b/a Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino v. Volin, 4D19-3471, Fla. 4th DCA, May 19, 2021, the Fourth District reaffirmed its holding in Thyssenkrupp Elevator Corp. v. Lasky, 868 So. 2d 547, 551 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003), and ordered a new trial on damages when a trial court allowed a Plaintiff to introduce the full amount billed by her medical providers instead of limiting the evidence of past medical expenses to the amounts actually paid by Medicare.
- The opinion notes the general confusion courts have when applying Florida’s collateral source rule and offers a concise explanation of Florida’s law on the subject; that this confusion is likely the result of aggressive advocacy by plaintiffs’ attorneys to chip away at Florida’s long-established principal that “the measure of compensatory damages in a tort case is limited to the actual damages sustained by the aggrieved party.” Id. at *2-3.
- Plaintiff argued that Joerg v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 176 So. 3d 1247 (Fla. 2015), implicitly overruled a long line of case law, including Thyssenkrupp Elevator Corp., when it held that it was proper to exclude evidence of a plaintiff’s eligibility for future benefits from sources like Medicare and Medicaid.
- The Fourth District disagreed and noted that Joerg only applied to future medical expenses and did not address past medical expenses.
- The Fourth District is not the first court to reject the argument Joerg extends to evidence of past medical benefits. The Second District came to the same conclusion in Dial v. Calusa Palms Master Ass’n, Inc., 308 So. 3d 690 (Fla. 2d DCA 2020). The Fourth District agreed with the Dial decision and joined the Second District in certifying the following question of great public importance to the Florida Supreme Court:
DOES THE HOLDING IN JOERG V. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE CO., 176 SO. 3D 1247 (FLA. 2015), PROHIBITING THE INTRODUCTION OF EVIDENCE OF MEDICARE BENEFITS IN A PERSONAL INJURY CASE FOR PURPOSES OF A JURY’S CONSIDERATION OF FUTURE MEDICAL EXPENSES ALSO APPLY TO PAST MEDICAL EXPENSES?
- Clarification from the Florida Supreme Court regarding the application of Florida’s collateral source rule would be a helpful tool to withstand the rigorous opposition defendants face from plaintiffs regarding evidence of past medical expenses in the lead-up to trial. In the meantime, the Fourth District’s decision offers a clear rejection of the argument that Joerg overrules the long-standing prohibition against admitting the full amount billed by medical providers when providers accepted a reduced payment from Medicare or Medicaid.
May 17, 2021
May 6, 2021
Build an emergency kit
Know your zone so you know when to evacuate, if necessary
Plan your evacuation route
Take inventory of your personal property and review your insurance policies
Take steps to protect your home and business
Hurricane Safety Tips and Resources from the National Weather Service
If you are an insurance adjuster, remember to check your license transcript and ensure you have met all of your CE requirements, so your license is in good standing and is active. If you need credits, we have several webinars coming up. We are also happy to schedule a private complimentary webinar for you and your team. Please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May 6, 2021
In consideration of the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, it is even more important to us to stand firmly in support of our diverse Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.
Join us in celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Month by exploring AAPI history, culture and accomplishments.
May 1, 2021
With the lingering effects of the pandemic and a shift in "returning to normal," we set out to provide our team resources for supporting mental health and well-being at work. Self-care has a great effect on our mental health, so we’ve arranged meditation services, breathing exercises and other outreach activities for our team to help improve mental, physical and spiritual well-being.
We invite you to pause and take time for yourself daily as it has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels while increasing self-compassion.
For helpful resources, visit: https://www.mhanational.org/ and https://www.nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Awareness-Month
April 30, 2021
April 30, 2021
What you need to know about Florida’s adoption of the federal summary judgment standard when it goes into effect on May 1.
The Florida Supreme Court’s decision to adopt the federal summary judgment standard in WilsonArt v. Lopez case is now underscored by the court’s near-verbatim adoption of federal rule 56. In what appears to be an effort to expedite the federal standard’s integration into Florida practice, the court added the following language to Rule 1.510(a): “The summary judgment standard provided for in this rule shall be construed and applied in accordance with the federal summary judgment standard.” In re Amends to Fla. Rule of Civ. Pro. 1.510, No. SC20-1490 (Fla. Apr. 29, 2021). While it remains to be seen how Florida’s trial courts interpret the new standard, the Florida Supreme Court explained that its “act of transplanting federal rule 56 brings with it the ‘old soil’ of case law interpreting that rule.”
Some key differences and distinctions for Florida practitioners are noted below.
1. Florida’s deadlines are more generous than before and are intended to reduce gamesmanship. The new rule requires that a summary judgment motion be filed at least 40 (not 20) days before the hearing. The nonmovant must respond with its factual position at least 20 (not 5 or 2) days before the hearing.
2. Summary Judgment is no longer disfavored in Florida. As the court announced in WilsonArt v. Lopez, the principles of the Celotex trilogy stand for the proposition that “[s]ummary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part” of rules aimed at “the just, speedy and inexpensive determination of every action.” This will be a welcome change, especially given the backlog created by the Covid-19 pandemic.
3. The Florida Supreme Court seems to be encouraging parties and courts to utilize the new rule and standard. The rule change reiterated the court’s holding in Wilsonart, LLC v. Lopez, 308 So. 3d 961, 964 (Fla. 2020), and made it clear that courts should give parties the opportunity to file a renewed summary judgment motion under the new rule when the motion was denied under the previous Florida Standard. The court also stated that, in cases where pending summary judgment motions are briefed but not decided, the court should allow the parties a reasonable opportunity to amend their filings to comply with the new rule. However, the court noted that “any pending rehearing of a summary judgment motion decided under the pre-amendment rule should be decided under the pre-amendment rule, subject of course to a party’s ability to file a renewed motion for summary judgment under the new rule.”
4. The “slightest doubt” standard is dead and judges are empowered to utilize their common sense when evaluating summary judgment motions. The court cited Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372 (2007), to emphasize that under Florida’s new rule, “[w]hen opposing parties tell two different stories, one of which is blatantly contradicted by the record, so that no reasonable jury could believe it, a court should not adopt that version of the facts for purposes of ruling on a motion for summary judgment.”
5. Practitioners must rely on federal case law. The court acknowledged that while the Celotex trilogy is a bedrock of the federal summary judgment standard, “30 years of practice under the trilogy has refined and added to the trilogy and that “courts applying the new rule must be guided not only by the Celotex trilogy, but by the overall body of case law interpreting federal rule 56.”
6. Florida courts will now have to state on the record its reasons for granting or denying a summary judgment. This will ensure that the courts are applying the correct standard.
See Florida’s new Rule 1.510 on Summary Judgment here:
See Supreme Court opinion here: