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The Florida Supreme Court’s Ten Most Impactful Decisions of 2012

Appellate & Trial Support   |   January 2, 2013
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Of the Florida Supreme Court’s 2012 published decisions, the authors have selected ten that, in their view, will have the greatest impact. Parentheticals reflect simplified vote totals.

1. Garcia v. Andonie, No. SC11-554 (Fla. Oct. 4, 2012) (7-0). The court held that Florida real property owners are entitled to a homestead exemption not only if the property is the owner’s permanent residence but also if the property is the permanent residence of a person dependent on the owner.

2. State v. Catalano, No. SC11-1166 (Fla. Dec. 13, 2012) (4-0-3). The court held that a statute prohibiting motor vehicle operators from producing noise “plainly audible” beyond 25 feet was not unconstitutionally vague but violated the First Amendment because the law, which included exceptions for vehicles used for business and political purposes, was not content neutral.

3. Birge v. Charron, No. SC10-1755 (Fla. Nov. 21, 2012) (4-0-2). The court rejected the view that the rear driver in a rear-end collision is presumed negligent unless the rear driver establishes his or her own lack of negligence. The court held that the rear driver is presumed negligent only until the rear driver produces some evidence of the front driver’s fault.

4. Telli v. Broward County, 94 So. 3d 504 (Fla. 2012) (6-0-1). The court held that a county’s charter, which provided for term limits on county commissioners, did not violate the Florida Constitution and its provisions on the disqualifications that apply to constitutionally authorized offices.

5. Atwater v. Kortum, 95 So. 3d 85 (Fla. 2012) (7-0). The court declared unconstitutional, as violating the First Amendment, a statute prohibiting public adjusters from initiating contact with insureds for 48 hours following a claim-producing event.

6. QBE Insurance Corp. v. Chalfonte Condominium Apartment Ass’n, Inc., 94 So. 3d 541 (Fla. 2012) (4-0-3). The court held that Florida does not recognize an insured’s claim for breach of an implied warranty of good faith and fair dealing in failing to investigate and assess a claim in a reasonable time.

7. West Florida Regional Medical Center, Inc. v. See, 79 So. 3d 1 (Fla. 2012) (5-0-2). The court held that Amendment 7, requiring the disclosure of records relating to adverse medical incidents, is not preempted by the federal Health Care Quality Improvement Act.

8. Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund v. American Educational Enterprises, LLC, 99 So. 3d 450 (Fla. 2012) (6-0-1). The court held that overbreadth alone is an insufficient basis for a writ of common law certiorari to quash an order compelling discovery.

9. Koren v. School Board of Miami-Dade County, 97 So. 3d 215 (Fla. 2012) (5-0-2). The court held that the preponderance of the evidence standard applies when proving an unfair labor practice by a public employer but not when determining if a claimant has stated a prima facie violation.

10. Southeast Floating Docks, Inc. v. Auto-Owners Ins. Co., 82 So. 3d 73 (Fla. 2012) (6-1). The court held that Florida’s offer of judgment statute is not applicable where parties have agreed to be bound by the substantive law of another forum.


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