First Party Defense Verdict Obtained in a Hurricane Michael Trial

December 2, 2021 Verdicts and Settlements

Michael Bonfanti and Joshua Canton, partners in the firm’s Tallahassee office, and their associate Taylor Hansford obtained a defense verdict in a Hurricane Michael first party property case tried over three days in Bay County, Florida.  The Plaintiffs argued at trial that their home was a total loss due to structural damage to the pilings by the hurricane. The Defendant argued that the home had no structural damage, was repairable, and that the Defendant had already paid its insureds the reasonable costs to repair the home prior to litigation. The jury awarded $0.00 for repair of the home. The Plaintiffs also failed to secure a verdict above the expired exclusive Proposals for Settlement served upon each Plaintiff, thus entitling the Defendant to recover its attorney’s fees.  

Liability Issues When Insuring Commercial Drones

November 8, 2021 Legal Alerts

Commercial drones, or unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs), have already shown the ability to increase business efficiency and make various practices – including safety analysis – more cost-effective. As the benefits of drone use in business continue to be revealed and the associated technology continues to improve, more commercial drones are being put into use every week. In fact, an average of 1,000 commercial drones are registered with the Federal Aviation Administration every week. As with any emerging technology, drone usage comes with risks and associated potential liability. As the industry continues to experience increased regulation, the potential for expensive liability claims is correspondingly increasing. Below we explore the liability issues when insuring commercial drones.  

Defense Verdict Obtained in Products Liability Case

October 27, 2021 Verdicts and Settlements

Cristobal Casal, Managing Partner of the Fort Myers office, and Brian Buczynski, an Associate, obtained a defense verdict in a products liability personal injury lawsuit involving an exploding lithium ion battery that Plaintiff was using in an electronic cigarette device.  The client was sued for selling a lithium ion battery that was alleged to have design defects that allowed it to short-circuit, catch on fire, and cause the Plaintiff to suffer second and third degree burns to his left hand.  The Plaintiff was a middle aged information technology worker who claimed that he had lost grip strength in his hand, was suffering from mild carpal tunnel disorder, and tremors and shaking that were not present before the date of the event.  Plaintiff boarded more than $77,000.00 in incurred medical expenses and asked the jury to award up to $3,300,000.00 during closing argument.  The trial took place over five days in Sarasota County, Florida.  The jury deliberated for 90 minutes before rendering their verdict in favor of the defense and finding no entitlement to damages.  The client will be entitled to pursue its attorneys’ fees and costs as there was a Proposal for Settlement served on the Plaintiff that was allowed to lapse. 

Why Jurors May Be Biased Against the Trucking Industry

October 26, 2021 Legal Alerts

It is not uncommon for jurors to have specific biases against certain industries. A person does not necessarily put aside their personal beliefs when chosen to serve on a jury. Researchers and legal experts have found that jurors can hold negative attitudes towards corporate America, specifically the trucking industry, when serving in a courtroom. This negativity can be manipulated by attorneys to steer jurors towards “nuclear” judgments against trucking companies resulting in potential bankruptcy and/or shutting down those companies. Defense attorneys need to be aware of and know how to deal with potentially biased juries, as many jurors admit to having a built-in bias against truckers. Where does this bias originate and why are these views so common amongst jurors? The following details why jurors may be biased against the trucking industry.        

Explaining Right of Contribution Among Liability Insurers

October 15, 2021 Legal Alerts

In June of 2019, the Florida Legislature passed a new law (Florida Statute, Section 624.1055) creating a right of contribution among liability insurers for defense costs associated with defending an insured shared between multiple insurance policies. The new law effectively overturned the longstanding precedent set by Argonaut Insurance v. Maryland Casualty, 372 So. 2d 960 (Fla. 3d DCA 1979), Continental Casualty Company v. United Pacific Insurance Company, 637 So. 2d 270 (Fla. 5th DCA 1994), and their subsequent progeny. Without a right of contribution, some insurers were incentivized to push back accepting liability for their policyholders in the hopes another of the insured’s policies would kick in and foot the bill. This law stood for many years.