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WSH Attorneys Obtain Significant Appellate Victory For Client At State's Highest Court

On November 7, 2013, the Florida Supreme Court issued a unanimous, 25-page opinion in favor of Firm client, CMI, Inc., the Kentucky-based manufacturer of the Intoxilyzer brand breath-alcohol testing instrument used in Florida. The case is Ulloa v. CMI, Inc., __ So. 3d __, 2013 WL 5942299 (Fla. Nov 07, 2013). Criminal defendants throughout the state had served hundreds of subpoenas duces tecum on CMI's registered agent in Florida, demanding that CMI surrender the source code for the Intoxilyzer simply by "sending it to defense counsel." CMI repeatedly objected and moved to quash the subpoenas arguing, in relevant part, that it could not be subpoenaed through its registered agent and that defendants had to comply with Florida's Uniform Law to Secure the Attendance of Witnesses from Within or Without a State in Criminal Proceedings. This concerted effort by the criminal defense bar forced CMI to litigate in county and circuit courts throughout the entire state instead of defending against the subpoenas in Kentucky, as the act contemplated.

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Categories: LitigationAppellate Law & Practice
Tags: Florida Supreme CourtJamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaLaura K. WendellMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale Appellate Law AttorneysMiami Appellate Law AttorneysSouth Florida Appellate Law AttorneysFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Litigation AttorneyJohn J. Quick
Author(s): Edward G. Guedes

U.S. Supreme Court Holds Warrantless Search by Drug-Sniffing Dogs at Front Porch Constitutes Unreasonable Search

On March 26, the U.S. Supreme Court (the “Court”) held that the Miami-Dade law enforcement officers conducted a trespassory invasion when they used a drug-sniffing dog at the front door of a suspected marijuana dealer’s home without obtaining a search warrant, and that this invasion constituted an unreasonable search and a violation of the suspected dealer’s Fourth Amendment rights. The decision in Florida v. Jardines, --- S. Ct. ----, 2013 WL 1196577 (U.S. Mar. 26, 2013), will have an impact on how law enforcement agencies in Florida conduct K-9 searches.

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Categories: LitigationFederal LawFederal CourtsConstitutional LawCriminal Law
Tags: Florida Supreme CourtFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsFort Lauderdale Constitutional Law AttorneysMiami Constitutional Law AttorneysSouth Florida Constitutional Law AttorneysSouth Florida LitigatorsFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysMiami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Brooke P. Dolara

Tiara Condominium: The Final Chapter in the Economic Loss Rule in Florida?

In 1987, the Florida Supreme Court decided the seminal case of Florida Power & Light Co. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 510 So. 2d 899 (Fla. 1987), which marked the beginning of what would become nearly three decades of the application of the "Economic Loss Rule" (or Economic Loss Doctrine)("ELR") in Florida to bar tort claims for "purely economic losses" that were not accompanied by personal injury or damage to other property. As the Court would later explain in Casa Clara Condominium Ass'n, Inc. v. Charley Toppino And Sons, Inc., 620 So. 2d 1244, 1246 (Fla. 1993), purely economic losses are "damages for inadequate value, costs of repair and replacement of the defective product, or consequent loss of profits -- without any claim of personal injury or damage to other property." While application of the rule in Westinghouse began in the context of products liability--to bar FPL's claims in negligence for defective steam generators designed, manufactured and furnished by Westinghouse--the Court quickly expanded its use to services in the case of AFM Corp. v. Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Co., 515 So. 2d 180 (Fla. 1987)--to deny recovery in negligence for what amounted to a breach of contact by Southern Bell which used an incorrect phone number in an advertisement for AFM causing only economic damages.

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Categories: LitigationCondominium AssociationsHomeowners' AssociationsConstruction Law
Tags: Condos and HOAsFlorida Supreme CourtGary L. BrownJamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesJoshua D. KrutMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaDamagesFort Lauderdale Business Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Business Litigation LawyersMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerFort Lauderdale Condominium Association AttorneysMiami Condominium Association AttorneysSouth Florida Condominium Association AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation LawyersMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale Homeowners' Association AttorneysMiami Homeowners' Association AttorneysSouth Florida Homeowners' Association AttorneysFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsSouth Florida LitigatorsEleventh Circuit Court of AppealsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Condo Association LawFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Construction LawyerMiami Construction LawyerMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Gary L. Brown

Florida Supreme Court Narrows Privilege Protecting Attorneys from Tort Suits for Conduct or Comments Made in Litigation or Pre-Litigation Investigations

On February 14, 2013, the Florida Supreme Court handed down its decision in Delmonico v. Traynor, which was somewhat less than a Valentine’s Day card to lawyers around the State of Florida. Historically, a lawyer engaged in litigation and pre-litigation investigation of matters has enjoyed an absolute privilege that protects him or her from being sued in tort for comments made or conduct engaged in while handling the litigation on behalf of a client. Yesterday, the Florida Supreme Court articulated a new rule, concluding that when a lawyer is investigating a matter in litigation, but engages in ex parte communications with a non-party witness, comments made to that witness that result in harm to one of the parties are actionable in tort. The lawyer may not invoke an absolute privilege, but rather only a qualified privilege, provided the comments were related to the substance of the litigation.

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Categories: LitigationAppellate Law & PracticeTorts
Tags: Florida Supreme CourtJamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaLaura K. WendellFort Lauderdale Business Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Business Litigation LawyersMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation AttorneysSouth Florida Business Dispute Litigation LawyersMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale Appellate Law AttorneysMiami Appellate Law AttorneysSouth Florida Appellate Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsSouth Florida LitigatorsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Edward G. Guedes

Florida Supreme Court Upholds Mandatory 3% Contributions to Pension Plan by Public Employees

In a much anticipated ruling, the Florida Supreme Court ruled (4-3) against government employees by upholding a 2011 law requiring government employees in Florida to contribute 3% of their earnings to a state retirement fund (i.e., the Florida Retirement System (“FRS”)). The ruling reverses County Circuit Court Judge Jackie Fulford’s ruling that the pension changes were unconstitutional because they impaired the obligation of contracts, took private property without full compensation and impaired the right of government employees to bargain collectively.

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Categories: Labor and Employment
Tags: Public EmployeesPublic EmployersCollective BargainingGovernmental LitigationFlorida Supreme CourtRaquel ElejabarrietaBrett J. SchneiderFort Lauderdale Employment Law AttorneysMiami Employment Law AttorneysSouth Florida Employment Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale Labor Law AttorneysMiami Labor Law AttorneysSouth Florida Labor Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale Employment LawyerFort Lauderdale Employment LawyerMiami Employment AttorneyMiami Employment AttorneyMiami Labor Lawyer
Author(s): Raquel Elejabarrieta

Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Koontz Property Rights Case

On January 15, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Koontz v. St. Johns Water Management District. The Court granted certiorari to the appellant last October. The case involves Cory Koontz, a landowner who owned 15 acres of land, the majority of which fell within a riparian habitat-protection zone in the Econlockhatchee River hydrological basin and contained protected wetlands. The development of the land was under the jurisdiction of the St. Johns River Water Management District. The question presented in Koontz is whether a governmental entity’s denial of a permit can be the basis for a regulatory takings claim when it is denied solely because the landowner refused to agree to proposed conditions to the permit. The Court would also determine whether the decisions reached in Nollan v. California Coastal Commission, 483 U.S. 825, 107 S. Ct. 3141, 97 L.Ed. 2d 677 (1987) (holding that there must be an essential “nexus” between the permitted activity and the condition imposed on the permit) and Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U.S. f374, 114 S. Ct. 2309, 129 L. Ed. 2d 304 (1994) (requiring “rough proportionality” between the condition placed on the land and the extent of the impact of the proposed development”) are applicable to the present case, which involved no requirement to dedicate an interest in real property. In its 2011 decision, the Florida Supreme Court held that the Nollan/Dolan cases both involved the grant of permits rather than permit denials, and were only applicable where the condition imposed on the permit involves a dedication of the owner’s real property interest.

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Categories: Land Use & Zoning (Public)Environmental/SustainabilityLitigationEminent Domain
Tags: Governmental LitigationFlorida Supreme CourtMitchell J. BurnsteinJamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokClifford A. SchulmanJoseph H. SerotaSusan L. TrevarthenMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale Eminent Domain AttorneysMiami Eminent Domain AttorneysSourth Florida Eminent Domain AttorneysFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsFort Lauderdale Constitutional Law AttorneysMiami Constitutional Law AttorneysSouth Florida Constitutional Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale Environmental Law AttorneysMiami Environmental Law AttorneysSouth Florida Environmental Law Attorneys South Florida LitigatorsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFlorida Environmental LawFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Eminent Domain Attorney
Author(s): Susan L. Trevarthen & Peter D. Waldman

Florida Supreme Court Holds State Noise Law Unconstitutional

In an opinion issued on Thursday, December 13, 2012, the Florida Supreme Court declared Section 316.3045, Florida Statutes (2007), to be invalid. The law prohibits motorist from playing music or amplified sound at a volume that is “plainly audible” to someone 25 feet away.

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Categories: LitigationLocal GovernmentConstitutional Law
Tags: Governmental LitigationMunicipal GovernmentSpecial Counsel to Local GovernmentFlorida Supreme CourtMitchell A. BiermanJamie A. ColeChad S. FriedmanEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaRichard Jay WeissLaura K. WendellJames E. WhiteDavid M. WolpinFort Lauderdale Local Government LawMiami Local Government LawSouth Florida Local Government LawFort Lauderdale Municipal AttorneysMiami Municipal AttorneysSouth Florida Municipal AttorneysFort Lauderdale Appellate Law AttorneysMiami Appellate Law AttorneysSouth Florida Appellate Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsFort Lauderdale Constitutional Law AttorneysMiami Constitutional Law AttorneysSouth Florida Constitutional Law AttorneysSouth Florida LitigatorsFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysMiami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): James E. White

The Red Light Camera Diaries: Florida Supreme Court to Determine Whether Programs Preempted by State Law

The Florida Supreme Court will hear cases from the Third and Fifth District Court of Appeal to determine the legality of red light camera ordinances in Aventura and Orlando. The Third and Fifth Districts issued conflicting opinions on whether the red light cameras circumvented Florida’s Uniform Traffic Control Law. In Aventura v. Masone, the Third District ruled that the City of Aventura’s red-light camera program was a valid and enforceable program that was not preempted by state law. Specifically, the Court found that Aventura properly invoked its broad home rule and police powers to regulate red light camera violations on its own roads through the use of red light camera powers, and to issue citations and collect fines under its code enforcement powers. The Court further found that Chapter 316 did not expressly preempt the City’s police powers in this area of traffic regulation. In City of Orlando v. Udowychenko, the Fifth District held that the city’s red light camera ordinance expressly and impliedly conflicted with state law because it enforced conduct specifically prescribed by state law.

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Categories: LitigationConstitutional Law
Tags: Red Light CamerasRule EnforcementFlorida Supreme CourtJamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaFlorida LegislatureMiami Commercial Litigation AttorneyMiami Commercial Litigation LawyerSouth Florida Commercial Litigation AttorneySouth Florida Commercial Litigation LawyerFort Lauderdale Governmental Affairs AttorneysMiami Governmental Affairs AttorneysSouth Florida Governmental Affairs AttorneysMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsFort Lauderdale Constitutional Law AttorneysMiami Constitutional Law AttorneysSouth Florida Constitutional Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale Environmental Law AttorneysSouth Florida LitigatorsFlorida Commercial Litigation LawyerFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Commercial Litigation AttorneysMiami Litigation Attorney

U.S. Supreme Court Will Hear Widely-Publicized Florida Case Involving Rules on Exactions and Inverse Condemnation

On October 5, the United States Supreme Court granted a petition for certiorari filed on behalf of the plaintiff in Koontz v. St. Johns Water Management District.  Oral arguments will be scheduled in the coming months. The case involves Coy Koontz, a landowner who owned 15 acres of land, the majority of which fell within a riparian habitat-protection zone in the Econlockhatchee River hydrological basin and contained protected wetlands. The development of the land was under the jurisdiction of the St. Johns River Water Management District.

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Categories: Land Use & Zoning (Public)Environmental/SustainabilityLitigationAppellate Law & PracticeLand Use & Zoning (Private)Federal CourtsConstitutional LawEminent DomainAdministrative Law
Tags: Governmental LitigationFlorida Supreme CourtMitchell J. BurnsteinJamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesGilberto PastorizaMichael S. PopokClifford A. SchulmanJoseph H. SerotaSusan L. TrevarthenMatthew H. MandelFort Lauderdale Eminent Domain AttorneysMiami Eminent Domain AttorneysSourth Florida Eminent Domain AttorneysFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsFort Lauderdale Constitutional Law AttorneysMiami Constitutional Law AttorneysSouth Florida Constitutional Law AttorneysFort Lauderdale Environmental Law AttorneysMiami Environmental Law AttorneysSouth Florida Environmental Law Attorneys South Florida LitigatorsFlorida Environmental LawFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation AttorneysMiami Litigation Attorney
Author(s): Susan L. Trevarthen & Brooke P. Dolara

WSH Obtains Favorable Ruling From Florida Supreme Court in Wrongful Death Case

On September 14, 2012, WSH Partners Matthew H. Mandel, Edward G. Guedes, and Jamie A. Cole, obtained a favorable ruling from the Florida Supreme Court on behalf of the City of Boca Raton in a wrongful death action. The issue in the appeal was whether the police, after releasing an impaired person from their custody, owed a duty of care to that person. The Florida Supreme Court denied the plaintiff’s petition to have the Court review the favorable En Banc decision from the Fourth District Court of Appeal, which held that the police did not owe a duty of care. The entire panel of judges from Fourth District Court had reversed an earlier decision by 3 of its judges and affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint.

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Categories: LitigationTorts
Tags: Governmental LitigationFlorida Supreme CourtJamie A. ColeEdward G. GuedesMichael S. PopokJoseph H. SerotaFort Lauderdale LitigatorsMiami LitigatorsFlorida Litigation AttorneysFort Lauderdale Civil Litigation Attorneys
Author(s): Matthew H. Mandel