Sunday, May 31, 2015

Contracts, imputed income, and grilled shrimp on avocado with basil pesto dollops

Contracts -- Statute of frauds -- Oral agreement not to be performed within one year of the making of the agreement -- Terminable-at-will oral agreement to purchase lottery tickets and to equally share in the proceeds of any winning lottery ticket is outside statute of frauds, and is enforceable, because agreement could have been performed within one year
HOWARD BROWNING, Petitioner, v. LYNN ANNE POIRIER, Respondent. Supreme Court of Florida.

Deceptive and unfair trade practices -- Sovereign immunity -- Florida State Lottery -- Action against Florida Lottery based on its refusal to pay $500,000 prize where ticket, which initially appeared to be a winning ticket, was on closer inspection a “misprint” which was not a winner and was not able to be validated through the Lottery's system -- No merit to any of plaintiff's several claims -- Although sovereign immunity has been waived for breach of contract claims against the state and its agencies, it has not been waived for the unfair and deceptive trade practices and misleading advertising claims asserted by plaintiff -- Even if the claim were not barred by sovereign immunity, claim lacks merit because summary judgment evidence establishes the ticket was not a winner -- Contracts -- Trial court properly held Lottery did not breach contract embodied in lottery ticket where relevant statute provides that no prize may be paid arising from tickets that are produced or issued in error -- Promissory estoppel -- Trial court properly concluded promissory estoppel claim was a recasting of breach of contract claim

Dissolution of marriage -- Alimony -- Modification -- Imputed income -- Trial court erred in failing to impute to former wife income for earnings that could reasonably be projected based on her liquid assets while imputing the same type of income to former husband -- Remand for recalculation of alimony
ALBERT JOSEPH WINNIER, Appellant, v. CAROL ANN WINNIER, Appellee. 2nd District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Attorney's fees -- Trial court abused its discretion in awarding attorney's fees to wife where parties were equally able to pay their own fees -- Amounts husband was obligated to pay in alimony and child support should have been deducted when determining husband's ability to pay

Garnishment -- Circuit court acting in its appellate capacity departed from essential requirements of law when it affirmed county court order dismissing judgment creditor's garnishment action against judgment debtor's employer based on bankruptcy discharge of the underlying debt owed to creditor by the judgment debtor -- Discharge of judgment debtor's liability to creditor did not eliminate employer's independent liability under garnishment statute -- Under clear terms of garnishment statute, garnishee was independently liable for amounts that it should have retained for creditor's benefit between date writ of garnishment was served and date debtor filed for bankruptcy protection -- Circuit court's departure from essential requirements of law resulted in miscarriage of justice when circuit court also affirmed county court's sua sponte dismissal of creditor's garnishment action in response to motion for judgment on pleadings -- Dismissal was not only improper response to the denial of a motion for judgment on pleadings, but dismissal was form of relief not requested by either of the parties and, accordingly, violated creditor's due process rights
PAUL DAVID DANIELS, Petitioner, v. SORRISO DENTAL STUDIO, LLC, Respondent. 2nd District.

Real property -- Homeowners associations -- Impairment of contracts -- In granting summary judgment to homeowners' association, enforcing payment by foreclosure sale purchaser of assessments accrued under previous owner, trial court's reliance on statute providing that parcel owners are jointly and severally liable with previous owners for unpaid assessments, rather than on provisions of association's declaration providing that obligation for delinquent assessments shall not pass to successors in title, violated new owner's constitutional right against impairment of contract, where new owner was a third-party beneficiary of the declaration -- No merit to homeowners association's claim that the statute amended the declaration -- Remand for entry of summary judgment in favor of new owner
PUDLIT 2 JOINT VENTURE, LLP, a Florida limited liability partnership, Appellant, v. WESTWOOD GARDENS HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC., a Florida corporation not-for-profit, Appellee. 4th District.

Torts -- Conspiracy -- Fraudulent transfers -- Action by shareholder and creditor of corporation alleging that defendants improperly transferred assets to another corporation, which did not pay reasonably equivalent value in exchange for the assets -- Trial court erred in entering summary judgment for corporate defendant on count alleging fraudulent transfer -- Plaintiff was creditor for purposes of fraudulent transfer statute where he classified his contributions to first corporation as loans, not equity -- Accordingly, trial court erred in finding that plaintiff needed to bring derivative action as opposed to a direct action -- Trial court erred in concluding that plaintiff sued wrong entity -- Suit was not premised on agency relationship between corporate defendant and wholly-owned subsidiary which employed the individual who actually transferred the assets at issue -- Trial court erred in finding that record was devoid of evidence that transfer was made with intent to hinder, delay, or defraud plaintiff -- Genuine issues of material fact exist as to existence of two “badges of fraud” -- In light of appellate court's reversal of summary judgment on fraudulent transfer claim, it was error to enter summary judgment on conspiracy count, which was premised on existence of actionable claim for fraudulent transfer
MARK S. YARALLI, individually and as 50% shareholder of Digiplot, Inc., Appellant, v. AMERICAN REPROGRAPHICS COMPANY, LLC, a Florida limited liability company, Appellee. 4th District.

Torts -- Legal malpractice -- Discovery -- Depositions -- Non-party material witness -- Trial court did not depart from essential requirements of law by denying non-party's motion for protective order to prevent continuation of deposition -- As material witness, the fact that certain financial information may be disclosed is not sufficient reason, standing alone, to preclude deposition -- Trial court properly issued order limiting subject matter of pending deposition to those specific issues framed by amended complaint
CARLOS KAUFFMAN, Petitioner, vs. FRANKLIN DURAN, Respondent. 3rd District.

Torts -- Malicious prosecution -- Attorney's fees -- Claim or defense not supported by material facts or applicable law -- Trial court erred in awarding attorney's fees pursuant to section 57.105, Florida Statutes, in favor of defendant, an unlicensed contractor who had filed an invalid lien against plaintiff's property, on the basis that plaintiff's malicious prosecution action against defendant was not supported by material facts or applicable law -- Evidence was sufficient to establish all elements required for a prima facie case of malicious prosecution, including legal malice and damages
COLLEEN J. MacALISTER, Appellant, v. BEVIS CONSTRUCTION, INC., and MICHAEL BEVIS, Appellees. 2nd District.

Torts -- Negligence -- Contractors -- Unlicensed contractor -- To be considered licensed under contract for construction of home for plaintiffs, defendant, as of date of contract, had to have a primary or secondary qualifying agent in accordance with statute concerning scope of work to be performed under the contract -- Trial court erred in entering judgment in favor of plaintiffs based on finding that defendant was acting as unlicensed contractor where defendant met this requirement -- Statute precludes considering events that occur after the contract date by instructing that a contractor be considered unlicensed “only if” the contractor is unlicensed at that specific time -- Licensure question under section 489.128(1) turns on whether the business organization is associated with a person licensed for the type of work to be performed under the contract as of the effective date of the contract, irrespective of whether that person ultimately obtains the permit and supervises the construction under the contract -- Evidence that defendant may have violated law by building home with a contractor other than the one whose name appeared on building permit, by using former agent's license when she was not affiliated with project, and by conducting project with inadequate supervision was irrelevant to narrow issue of whether defendant was licensed on date of contract
TAYLOR MORRISON SERVICES, INC. f/k/a Morrison Homes, Inc., Appellant, v. CAROL ECOS AND SUSAN BESSING, Appellees. 1st District.

Wrongful death -- Sovereign immunity -- State university's Athletic Association, a university direct-support organization, is entitled to limited sovereign immunity because the university has the right to control the association and exercises actual control over association -- Remand for entry of judgment corresponding to jury's award of damages but limiting athletic association's liability for payment to $200,000 pursuant to section 768.28(5), Florida Statutes
ENOCK PLANCHER, etc., Petitioner, vs. UCF ATHLETICS ASSOCIATION, INC., et al., Respondent. Supreme Court of Florida.

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Retired US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens urges Compensation for Guantanamo Detainees

"Likening some Guantánamo Bay prisoners to Japanese-Americans who were detained during World War II, retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens is urging Congress to pay reparations for their time in confinement.
Speaking in Washington on May 4, Stevens also criticized the Supreme Court for its 2009 decision in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, which said top Bush administration officials could not be held liable for alleged mistreatment of a Pakistani “high interest” terrorism suspect. In that case, Stevens said that if suspect Javaid Iqbal’s allegations were true, “the federal government, rather than individual executives, should make him whole.”
According to the text of Stevens’ talk released by the high court, Stevens focused on the 57 Guantánamo detainees approved for transfer out of the facility by federal officials who agree they pose no significant security threat to the United States.
But because of strict congressional limits on how or where Guantánamo detainees can be released, Stevens said, they have not been let go.
“These onerous provisions have hindered the president’s ability to close Guantánamo, make no sense, and have no precedent in our history,” Stevens told the group Lawyers for Civil Justice. “Congress’ actions are even more irrational than the detention of Japanese-American citizens during World War II.”"

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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Deficiency judgments, lis pendens, child support, and cage free eggs over turnip greens, heirloom tomatoes, and manchego cheese

Appeals -- Timeliness -- Appellate court has no jurisdiction of appeal of trial court's denial of award of fees under wrongful act doctrine where notice of appeal was filed more than six months after final judgment -- Letter to court which reargued facts of case, raised rhetorical questions, and asked legal advice, did not constitute a motion for rehearing which would suspend rendition of final judgment

Arbitration -- Contracts -- Settlement agreement -- Under terms of settlement agreement which ultimately provided for merger of two companies, disputes relating to pre-merger loans were subject to two-step process, which required that any dispute be submitted initially to accounting firm for evaluation using “generally accepted accounting principles, consistently applied, and past practices” as parameters and then, if a party disagreed with accounting firm's application of accounting principles or past practices, required that dispute be resolved through binding arbitration -- Trial court's order submitting case to accounting firm for a binding decision as an arbitrator was contrary to parties' settlement agreement -- Remand for entry of order submitting case to accounting firm and ordering arbitration in event that either party disputes resolution reached by accountants
ROBIN RESNICK, Appellant, v. J. WEINSTEIN AND SONS, INC., a Florida corporation, and ABRAHAM RESNICK, individually, Appellees. 4th District.

Attorneys -- Disqualification -- Conflict of interest -- Motion to disqualify defendant's counsel in action for breach of non-disclosure agreement where defendant's counsel had represented plaintiff in other non-disclosure agreement matters ten years earlier -- Trial court erred in denying motion for disqualification on grounds of the time that had passed since the prior representation of plaintiff and the circumstances of the non-disclosure agreement -- Attorney's representation of parties involved substantially related matters

Attorney's fees -- Prevailing party -- Action for unpaid wages -- Award of prevailing party attorney's fees in action for unpaid wages is discretionary rather than mandatory -- Trial court did not abuse discretion in denying award of attorney's fees to plaintiff in her action for unpaid bonuses where plaintiff prevailed on some of her claims, and defendant prevailed on other claims -- Award of costs to prevailing party in action for unpaid wages is also discretionary, and trial court did not abuse discretion by denying award of costs to plaintiff
FILOMENA RUFFA, Appellant, v. SAFTPAY, INC., Appellee. 3rd District.

Attorney's fees -- Proposal for settlement -- Proposal which clearly announced that it addressed any and all claims and causes of action resulting from accident giving rise to lawsuit brought by injured plaintiff against driver of vehicle and which included and described all relevant conditions of the proposal was unambiguous and sufficient to meet particularity requirements of statute and rule -- Proposal did not need to address spouse's separate and distinct loss of consortium claim -- Trial court erred in characterizing proposal as a joint proposal and in denying claims for attorney's fees based on finding that the proposal failed to state amount and terms attributable to each party -- Requiring that codefendant/owner of vehicle be dismissed was merely condition attached to acceptance of offer and did not render proposal joint or invalidate it in any other way
GLENN MILEY and KYLE MILEY, Appellants, v. MARTHA NASH, Appellee. 2nd District.

Civil procedure -- Dismissal -- Two-dismissal rule -- Under two-dismissal rule, which provides that a notice of voluntary dismissal operates as an adjudication on the merits when served by a plaintiff who has previously dismissed the action, a notice of voluntary dismissal does not operate as an adjudication on the merits when it is preceded by an “agreed order” granting a defense motion to dismiss the case with leave to amend

Civil procedure -- Discovery -- Deposition of opposing counsel -- Order compelling litigant's in-house attorney, who is not the attorney of record but is directly involved in the litigation, to be deposed, is quashed because respondents failed to satisfy case law requirements for taking deposition of opposing counsel
ELLER-I.T.O. STEVEDORING COMPANY, L.L.C., Petitioner, v. LAZARO PANDOLFO and OLGA ALVAREZ a/k/a Olga Alvarez Sarria, Respondents. 3rd District.

Civil procedure -- New trial -- Abuse of discretion to grant defendant a new trial on the basis of cumulative unfair surprise where defendant either declined court offered continuance, or failed to request continuance, after each incident of claimed unfair surprise
RUVIM LONDON, Appellant/Cross-Appellee, v. VLADIMIR DUBROVIN, et. al., Appellees/Cross-Appellants. 3rd District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Attorney's fees -- Error to award attorney's fees to wife without making requisite written findings on husband's ability to pay and basis for specific payment plan imposed by court -- Judgment contained requisite findings on reasonableness of hours expended and hourly rate -- Husband cannot argue that trial court failed to make findings to support requirement that husband secure life insurance policy where husband agreed to purchase $100,000 life insurance policy and included such a provision in his proposed final judgment
CHRIS BECKSTROM, Appellant, v. JULIE BECKSTROM, Appellee. 4th District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Child support -- Modification -- Appeal from supplemental final judgment that modified husband's timesharing and child support based primarily on his relocation to foreign state -- Trial court abused its discretion in denying husband's requests for continuance based on late disclosure of wife's financial affidavit the day before final hearing -- Under controlling rule, requirement to provide financial affidavit in supplemental proceedings cannot be waived by parties; and in any event, there was no evidence of record that husband waived requirement -- Husband was prejudiced by late filing where he was unable to procure his own expert to review the alleged permanent decrease in income reflected in wife's affidavit -- Trial court erred in awarding retroactive support in absence of evidence that husband had ability to pay the amount ordered during the time period at issue -- No merit to husband's argument that trial court erred in including children's private school tuition as component on child support guidelines worksheets -- New hearing required on issue of child support
BRIAN K. GILROY, Appellant, v. PATRICIA A. GILROY, Appellee. 2nd District.

Dissolution of marriage -- Equitable distribution -- Errors regarding amount of debt and tax liability
MARGARET LEVITT, Appellant, v. ADAM LEVITT, Appellee. 5th District.

Injunctions -- Demolition of building by city -- Portion of injunction finding that city did not give proper notice of proposed demolition proceeding affirmed -- Error to enjoin city from demolishing building until pending foreclosure action is concluded -- Injunction erroneously fails to specify reasons for its entry, and there is no record support for injunction that prevents city's exercise of its right to demolish property once property owners have received proper notice
CITY OF MIAMI, Appellant, v. JP MORGAN CHASE BANK NATIONAL BANK, et. al., Appellees. 3rd District.

Injunctions -- Repeat violence -- No error in denying motion to dissolve injunction where motion challenged merits of injunction rather than alleging change in circumstances since injunction was entered
ALFRED WASHINGTON, Appellant, v. THELMA S. WASHINGTON, Appellee. 1st District.

Landlord-tenant -- Guarantors -- Summary judgment granted in favor of tenant and guarantors reversed as to guarantors because the motion only sought relief on behalf of tenant -- Appeals -- Jurisdiction -- Remainder of appeal dismissed because it is not an appealable partial final judgment
KENDALL COMMERCIAL ASSOCIATES, LLC, etc., Appellant, v. DRAKES, LLC, et. al., Appellees. 3rd District.

Limitation of actions -- Amended complaint -- Relation back -- Trial court erred in granting substituted defendant's motion for summary judgment on ground that statute of limitations had run where mistake in naming proper defendant was merely a misnomer, all the parties knew which entity the plaintiff intended to sue, and there was substantial identity of interest between the original defendant and substituted defendant -- Moreover, incorrectly named defendant engaged in extensive discovery and did not reveal that it was not the proper defendant until after statute of limitations had run -- Plaintiff not at fault for failing to inquire further after original defendant made conclusory statement in its first affirmative defense that it was “not a proper party to this action,” an assertion which was legally insufficient and inconsistent with its conduct in engaging in discovery
PAUL MAY, individually and as legal guardian of Jean May, Appellant, v. HCA HEALTH SERVICES OF FLORIDA, INC., d/b/a Blake Medical Center; FRANCISCO ESPARZA, M.D.; DAVID DIVITA, M.D.; and PINNACLE MEDICAL GROUP, P.A., Appellees. 2nd District.

Mortgage foreclosure -- Deficiency -- Action at law by mortgagee to recover damages for breach of note after mortgagee had included prayer for deficiency judgment in foreclosure complaint and trial court reserved jurisdiction in foreclosure judgment to enter deficiency judgment -- Trial court did not err in entering judgment for damages on note after consolidating the action at law and the foreclosure action
ROBERT G. REID, Appellant, v. COMPASS BANK, Appellee. 1st District.

Mortgage foreclosure -- Jury trial -- Where lender brought promissory note count against defendants in conjunction with mortgage foreclosure suit, defendants were not entitled to jury trial on promissory note action -- Legal remedy on promissory note in this context is deficiency judgment, and foreclosure courts are explicitly granted authority to enter this remedy -- Moreover, mortgage at issue contained jury trial waiver for any action related to mortgage or note -- Argument that plaintiff was not entitled to enforce jury trial waiver because it was not party to original contract is without merit, as plaintiff was holder of note and mortgage by virtue of an endorsement
TRENDA KINNEY f/k/a TRENDA BOUTIN and PETER KINNEY, Appellants, v. COUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS SERVICING, L.P., et al., Appellees. 4th District.

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