The Florida Supreme Court’s Ten Most Impactful Decisions of 2010

Appellate & Trial Support   |   January 7, 2011

Of the Florida Supreme Court’s 2010 published decisions, Sylvia Walbolt and Matt Conigliaro have selected 10 that, in their view, have had or will have the greatest impact on Florida’s citizens or its legal system. Parentheticals reflect simplified vote totals.

1. Curd v. Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC, 39 So. 3d 1216 (Fla. 2010) (5-1). The court held that commercial fisherman could bring a common law negligence claim against a defendant that allegedly polluted Tampa Bay’s public waters. The court determined that the defendant’s business activities and the plaintiffs’ special interests gave rise to a duty to protect the plaintiffs’ economic interests.

2. Florida Dep’t of State v. Mangat, 43 So. 3d 642 (Fla. 2010) (3-2-2). Following bypass certification by the First District, the supreme court held that the ballot summary for a legislatively proposed constitutional amendment regarding Florida health care services was misleading and invalid. The court also held it lacked authority to fix the misleading summary by ordering the proposed amendment substituted for the summary. The court receded from an unpublished order in an earlier case in which the court ordered that remedy.

3. In re Amendments to Fl. R. Jud. Admin. 2.420 and the Fl. R. App. P., 31 So. 3d 756 (Fla. 2010) (7-0). The court adopted new rules covering public access to judicial branch records. The new rules make clear that parties may no longer seal sensitive matters from the public’s view merely because the parties consider the documents sensitive. Public records may be sealed only if they meet specific qualifications.

4. Bosem v. Musa Holdings, Inc., 46 So. 3d 42 (Fla. 2010) (6-0). The court held that, with the exception of personal injury matters, in all tort and contract cases where the loss is wholly pecuniary and may be fixed as of a definite time, prejudgment interest should be allowed as a matter of right. The court explained that whether the loss is liquidated or unliquidated is not relevant.

5. Companioni v. City of Tampa, Case No. SC09-1800 (Fla. Dec. 16, 2010) (7-0). The court held that, to preserve an attorney misconduct objection sustained during trial for purposes of a motion for new trial or appellate review, a motion for mistrial must be made when the objection is sustained. The court explained that, otherwise, the conduct is subject to a fundamental error analysis.

6. Attorney’s Title Ins. Fund v. Gorka, 36 So. 3d 646 (Fla. 2010) (4-3). The court held that a joint proposal for settlement conditioned on the mutual acceptance of all offerees is invalid and unenforceable. The court explained that such joint offers preclude any offeree from independently evaluating or settling the offeree’s own claim by accepting the proposal.

7. Custer Med. Ctr. v. United Auto. Ins. Co., 35 Fla. L. Weekly S640 (Fla. Nov. 4, 2010) (5-2). The court held that, to grant relief on second-tier review of a decision by a circuit court acting in its appellate capacity, a district court must analyze and develop how the circuit court denied the petitioner procedural due process or departed from the essential requirements of law. The supreme court explained that the district court may not simply disagree with the circuit court's determination and interpretation of applicable law.

8. Westgate Miami Beach, Ltd. v. Newport Operating Corp., Case No. SC09-1881 (Fla. Dec. 16, 2010) (7-0). The court held that a trial court may reserve jurisdiction in a final judgment to award prejudgment interest. In reaching this decision, the court receded from a prior decision reaching the opposite conclusion. Prejudgment interest will now be addressed in a manner somewhat similar to how trial courts address attorney's fees and costs.

9. Aills v. Boemi, 29 So. 3d 1105 (Fla. 2010) (7-0). The court quashed a district court decision that reversed a trial court judgment based on improper closing arguments. The court held that an objection made during closing arguments did not sufficiently raise the concern on which the district court reversed. The court emphasized that, except with respect to fundamental error, an appellate court cannot consider any ground for objection not presented to the trial court.

10. Butler v. Yusem, 44 So. 3d 102 (Fla. 2010) (7-0). The court stated that justifiable reliance is an essential element of a negligent misrepresentation claim but not an essential element of a fraudulent misrepresentation claim. The court acknowledged that fraud requires reliance and that the recipient of a fraudulent misrepresentation may not rely on a representation actually known to be false or obviously false.

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