Every week, Scott J. Edwards, P.A. brings you this summary of selected opinions issued by Florida’s appellate courts in the previous week, EDWARDS-SMALL_002511with 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 weeks of January 11-22, 2016.  Click here to learn more about Scott Edwards’ appellate law services.

First Amendment, Privacy Rights for Jailhouse Conversations Palm Beach Newspapers v. State (Fla. 4th DCA Jan 21, 2016) In a criminal case, a jailhouse snitch was accused of receiving numerous benefits from his jailers in exchange for testifying at trial against numerous accused criminals. The trial court improperly entered an order sealing transcripts of the snitch’s telephone calls, prohibiting their publication, and ordering a newspaper to remove the transcripts and an article about the issue from its web site. The Fourth DCA quashed the trial court’s order, holding that inmates have no expectation of privacy in their telephone conversations. Furthermore, the order violated the newspaper’s first amendment rights because it improperly prohibited the publication of lawfully obtained, truthful information that was clearly a matter of public concern.

Proposal For Settlement Colvin v. Clements & Ashmore, P.A. (Fla. 1st DCA Jan. 15, 2016) Because the rules governing proposals for settlement and offers of judgment must be strictly complied with, the First DCA affirmed that a proposal for settlement was unenforceable because it failed to state that attorney’s fees and punitive damages were part of the claim. The proposal was unenforceable even though Plaintiff’s complaint did not seek attorney’s fees or punitive damages.

Slip and Fall, Summary Judgment Perez-Rios v. Graham Cos. (Fla. 3d DCA Jan. 20, 2016) The trial court properly entered summary judgment in favor of the property owner in this slip and fall case. Plaintiff alleged that she tripped on a step leading into a building owned by Defendant. The step was plainly visible, and there was no evidence of a foreign object, disrepair, inadequate lighting, slippery conditions, or any other defect. Thus, the step was not a defective condition, and was open an obvious to Plaintiff.

Dismissal as a Sanction Prater v. Comprehensive Health Center (Fla. 3d DCA Jan. 20, 2016): The trial court erred by striking a party’s pleadings for the late disclosure of evidence during jury selection for a trial. The striking of pleadings for a discovery violation is a severe sanction that should only be employed in extreme circumstances. There was no finding in the trial court record that the late disclosure of evidence was deliberate. Thus, the trial court should have employed a lesser remedy such as excluding the document from evidence, or by awarding attorney’s fees and costs caused by the late disclosure.

Clerk’s Default Stuart-Findlay v. Bank of America (Fla. 4th DCA Jan. 20, 2016): Once a defendant files a paper in an action, the clerk no longer may enter a default against the defendant, regardless of whether the defendant files a timely response to the complaint.

Condominium & Planned Development Law Certification In re: Fla. Bar Rules (Fla. Jan. 21, 2016): The Florida Supreme Court approved new board certification in the area of condominium & planned development law.

Foreclosure, Civil Procedure In re: Fla. R. Civ. P. (Fla. Jan. 14, 2016) Amending the rules of civil procedure on pleading requirements in foreclosure cases.
EDWARDS-SMALL_002511Scott J. Edwards is an appellate and civil litigation attorney in Boca Raton, Florida, with a practice focused on personal injury, commercial litigation, and insurance law.  He can be reached at scott@scottjedwards.com or 561-609-0760.