Every week, Scott J. Edwards, P.A. brings you this summary of selected opinions issued by Florida’s appellate courts in the previous week, with a focus on opinions discussing civil procedure, appellate procedure, trial practice, evidence, commercial litigation, insurance litigation, technology, and personal injury litigation. This article covers the week of May 16-20, 2016. Click here to learn more about Scott Edwards’ appellate law services.
Commercial Litigation, Causation, Lost Profits Arizona Chemical Co. v. Mohawk Industries, Inc. (Fla. 1st DCA May 20, 2016) Mohawk, a carpet manufacturer, experienced a significant increase in warranty claims on one of its carpet lines. Mohawk eventually traced the problems to defective resin manufacturer by its supplier, Arizona . Mohawk alleged that the defective resin caused sales of the carpet line to fall dramatically, and also damaged the company’s reputation, leading to $95 million in lost profits. Mohawk successfully obtained a $70.1 million verdict at trial, which was affirmed on appeal.
Arizona first argued on appeal that the trial court erred by excluding evidence that Mohawk’s warranty claims spiked on other lines of carpet at the same time. Thus, Arizona claimed it was prevented from arguing its theory that the increase in warranty claims was caused by quality control problems at Mohawk’s plant, rather than by defects in Arizona’s resin. The trial court, however, properly excluded this evidence because Arizona’s experts failed to properly link the spike in claims on other carpet lines to Arizona’s alleged lack of quality control at the plant. Moreover, Mohawk provided extensive scientific evidence that the carpet line’s problems were caused by chemical defects with Arizona’s resin.
Finally, Mohawk met its burden at trial to show that Arizona’s defective resin was a “substantial factor” in causing its lost profits, and established the amount of lost profits with reasonable certainty.
Appellate Procedure, Notice of Appeal Filed in Wrong Court Bennett v. State (Fla. 1st DCA May 20, 2016) Filing a notice of appeal in the wrong court is not a jurisdictional defect. Thus, the First DCA allowed the appeal in this case to go forward despite timely notice being filed in the wrong court.
Proposals For Settlement Ochoa v. Koppel (Fla. 2d DCA May 20, 2016) A motion to enlarge time to accept a proposal for settlement does not toll the thirty-day deadline to accept the proposal. Rule 1.442, governing proposals for settlement, contains a hard deadline of 30 days to accept a proposal. Furthermore, Rule 1.090, governing enlargement of time periods, does not contain any provision for tolling time periods while a motion for enlargement of time is pending. The Second DCA reasoned that allowing the mere filing of a motion for enlargement of time to automatically toll the acceptance period would frustrate the proposal for settlement rule’s purpose of encouraging timely settlement of claims. The Second DCA certified conflict with the 5th DCA opinion of Goldy v. Corbett Cranes Services, Inc., which allowed the tolling of a deadline to accept a proposal for settlement if a motion for enlargement of time is filed.
Due Process, Notice of Hearing Bank of America v. Fogel (Fla. 4th DCA May 18, 2016) A party’s due process is violated if it receives a notice of hearing on a Friday for a hearing scheduled for the following Monday.
Summary Judgment Burden of Proof Wells Fargo v. Bilecki (Fla. 4th DCA May 18, 2016) In this foreclosure case, the trial court erred by shifting the burden of proof to the bank to oppose the borrowers’ motion for summary judgment. Summary judgment should not have been entered because the borrowers did not meet their initial burden to prove that they did not receive the bank’s demand letter.
Scott J. Edwards is an appellate and civil litigation attorney in Boca Raton, Florida, with a practice focused on personal injury, commercial litigation, technology law, and insurance law. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-609-0760.
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