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Isaac Simmons v. Rave Motion Pictures Pensacola, L.L.C., et al., No. 1D15-4121 (Fla. 1st DCA August 22, 2016)

In this negligence claim testing the definition of what constitutes strict products liability, a three-judge Florida panel found that a movie theater seat was a property improvement and not a “product” that could be subject to a strict liability claim. The First District Court of Appeal upheld summary judgment in favor of the company that sold the seats and the contractor that installed them.

In a 2008 case, a moviegoer claimed a welding failure in a seat bottom caused him to fall to the floor and suffer injuries requiring surgery. But in upholding the trial court, the appellate panel found the plaintiff was barred from raising the product liability claim against the seller and contractor because the seats were “an integral part of the movie theater’s operation, as it was installed as part of the construction of the theater, and the entire seating system was bolted to the floor.” The panel also noted there was no evidence that the seating system could be disassembled and resold.

Significantly, the unanimous court distinguished the facts in this case from Pamperin v. Interlake Companies, Inc., 634 So. 2d (Fla. 1st DCCA 1994), noting that while the theater seat bottoms could be removed for cleaning and maintenance, the entire theater seating system was affixed to the property and was only sold as part of a complete system. Accordingly, the seating system was held to be an improvement and not a product. The court, without comment, also upheld judgment for the seller on two negligence counts.

First Mercury Ins. Co. v. Excellent Computing Distribs. Inc., et al., No. 15-10120 (11th Cir. April 20, 2016)

Reversing the district court, the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an insurer’s declaratory judgement action seeking to determine insurance coverage should not be dismissed merely because an underlying case was still unresolved. The insurer was seeking an early ruling declaring that a security company had no coverage for the “removal” of $2 million worth of computers from a Florida warehouse.

The district court earlier dismissed the insurer’s declaratory judgment action because there was no way to know if -- or to what extent -- the insured would be held liable for loss of the computers, and that significant factual questions had yet to be resolved in the underlying action.

But a unanimous three-judge panel disagreed, holding the lower court’s dismissal on jurisdictional grounds was an abuse of discretion. The appellate court reasoned that the district court failed to weigh the many factors in its 2005 Ameritas decision, including whether an early determination of coverage “serves a useful purpose” in clarifying the legal relations at issue and regarding settlement. The panel also stated the district court failed to identify or explain which factual issues tipped the scale in favor of dismissal.

The Eleventh Circuit remanded with directions to consider the Ameritas case and other factors deemed relevant.

Beck v. MMI Dining Systems, __So3d.__ WL 9594470 No. 1D15-2767 (Fla. 1st DCA Dec. 31, 2015)

In Beck, the First District Court of Appeal affirmed a workers’ compensation judge’s ruling that the claimant lacked standing to make a constitutional challenge to the workers’ compensation law. The court found the claimant failed to demonstrate a real and immediate injury. Moreover, even if the claimant had standing, the court noted it had previously held that the 2003 elimination of permanent partial disability benefits was constitutional because it withstood rational basis review.

Penalver v. Masomere, 178 So.3d 533 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2015)

In Penalver, the Third District Court of Appeal, acting on a petition for a Writ of Certiorari, quashed a lower court’s order granting three juror interviews in a medical malpractice case, after a verdict in favor of the doctor. The strategy here was to employ an extraordinary writ, as opposed to challenging the interviews later. The court found that certiorari was appropriate, and blocked the interviews because the jurors’ litigation histories were “immaterial and irrelevant” to their jury service. The court noted the litigation histories were either too remote in time to be relevant or were immaterial to the malpractice action.

Vargas v. Gutierrez, 176 So. 3d 315 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2015)

In Vargas, the Third District Court of Appeal reversed a $4 million medical malpractice verdict based on plaintiff’s violation of a pre-trial order limiting the experts to one per specialty, after plaintiff’s counsel was allowed to elicit opinion testimony from two pathologists who had examined plaintiff’s tissue samples at the behest of her treating physicians in the course of her care and treatment. The case is significant in prohibiting the practice of improperly using "treating physicians” to elicit additional expert testimony. The Third District also found that a new trial was required because in closing argument, plaintiff’s counsel “misstated crucial pieces of evidence regarding causation.”

Weaver v. Myers, 170 So.3d 873 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015)

In Weaver, the Third District Court of Appeal held that amendments made in 2013 to Florida’s medical malpractice presuit notice statute did not violate the state constitution and were not preempted by HIPAA. In affirming the trial court, the appellate panel found that ex parte interviews of health care practitioners was a reasonable presuit condition that did not violate the right of access to courts. The court also adopted the reasoning of the court in Murphy (see story below) in finding that HIPAA did not preempt Florida’s law.

Murphy v. Dulay, 768 F.3d 1360 (11th Cir. 2014)

In Murphy, the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals turned aside a federal preemption challenge based on HIPAA to Florida’s statute requiring presuit disclosure in medical malpractice actions. Vacating the holding of the district court, the appellate court found that Florida’s authorization form complied with HIPAA regulations and that HIPAA did not preclude the state from conditioning the filing of a lawsuit on signing an authorization. The court noted a presumption against preemption in areas traditionally regulated by the states, and that clear intent to prohibit conditioning was absent from HIPAA regulations.

Burns v. Palms West Hospital, 139 So.3d 867 (Fla. 2014)

In Burns, the Supreme Court wrote an opinion after oral argument discharging its jurisdiction and letting stand the Fourth District’s decision holding that a plaintiff cannot avoid presuit and other requirements of the medical malpractice statutes by alleging administrative negligence in a case where a hospital allegedly negligently retained physicians who refused to treat uninsured patients in the emergency room resulting in the death of the plaintiff. 

McCulla v. Rell, 101 So.3d 878 (Fla. 2014). 

In McCulla, the Supreme Court decided, after oral argument, to discharge its jurisdiction and let stand the Second District’s decision holding that a presuit corroborating affidavit that only opines that additional investigation is required is insufficient and cannot be cured by the claimant’s attorney’s investigation, which included review of medical records and discussions with the patient and the medical expert.  The decision also clarifies that certiorari review is still available to review a trial court’s failure to dismiss a malpractice action when a corroborating affidavit is facially insufficient.

Dupont v. Sidran, No. 3D12-321, 2014 WL 1613656 (Fla. 3DCA 2014).

In Sidran, the Third District Court of Appeal reversed an order striking defendant-DuPont’s pleadings and entering a default judgment against it for a “fraud on the court” allegedly perpetrated by DuPont in its use, creation and representations concerning its document depository and collection related to its product Benlate. The Court of Appeal also reversed a subsequent multi-million dollar judgment against DuPont. The striking sanction had not only been entered in five separate Benlate products liability cases against DuPont but plaintiffs in other cases had also attempted to use the sanction order to obtain a default judgment against DuPont. The Court of Appeal’s unanimous and lengthy 65-page slip opinion finds that DuPont committed no wrongdoing and severely chastises plaintiff’s counsel for his deplorable litigation tactics and conduct.

Interline Brands, Inc. v. Chartis Specialty Ins. Co., 749 F.3d 962 (11th Cir 2014).

In Interline, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that an exclusion in a series of commercial general liability insurance policies for claims arising out of any act that violates laws that address the sending, transmitting or communicating of any material or information, by any means whatsoever, unambiguously excluded coverage for claims made against Interline for sending unwanted “junk” faxes in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. 

Ms Irene Porter has been invited to join the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance in January 2014.

Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein, P.A. is pleased to announce that Irene Porter has been invited to join the prestigious Claims and Litigation Management Alliance. The CLM is a nonpartisan alliance comprised of thousands of insurance companies, corporations, corporate counsel, litigation and risk managers, claims professionals and attorneys. Through education and collaboration the organization's goals are to create a common interest in the representation by firms of companies, and to promote and further the highest standards of litigation management in pursuit of client defense. Selected attorneys and law firms are extended membership by invitation only based on nominations from CLM Fellows.

Mark Hicks, Irene Porter & Dinah Stein selected for 2014 edition of The Best Lawyers in America.

Partners of the firm have been selected to The Best Lawyers in America publication. Mark Hicks was been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2014 edition of The Best Lawyer in America in the practice areas of Appellate Law and Commercial Litigation. Irene Porter was selected in the area of Insurance Law and Dinah Stein was selected in the area of Appellate Practice. Best Lawyer is based upon peer-review surveys of more than 2.8 million confidential evaluations by top attorneys

Mark Hicks, Dinah Stein, Cindy Ebenfleld, Gary Magnarini and Steven Preston rated AV 5.0 for 2014 in Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Ratings.

Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ reflect a combination of achieving a Very High General Ethical Standards rating and a Legal Ability numerical rating. A threshold number of responses is required to achieve a rating. The Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ are an objective indicator of a lawyer's high ethical standards and professional ability, generated from evaluations of lawyers by other members of the bar and the judiciary in the United States and Canada.

Mark Hicks, Irene Porter, Cindy Ebenfeld, Dinah Stein, Gary Magnarini and Steven Preston selected as "Top Rated Lawyers" in South Florida by ALM.

South Florida's Top Rated Lawyers helps take the mystery out of locating a high quality advocate to protect you, your family, your business and your assets. Top Rated Lawyers are considered first rate in their field. The attorneys selected to this publication have all achieved the peer review rating AV Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell.

Mark Hicks, Irene Porter and Dinah Stein recognized as "SuperLawyers" in Florida.

Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

Mark Hicks, Cindy Ebenfeld and Dinah Stein recognized as "Top Lawyers" in South Florida.

Mark Hicks, Cindy Ebenfeld and Dinah Stein were recognized by the South Florida Legal Guide as "Top Lawyers" in South Florida. Mr. Hicks was recognized in the areas of Appellate Practice and Insurance Defense, Ms. Ebenfeld in the areas of Insurance Coverage and Bad Faith Litigation, and Ms. Stein in the area of Appellate Practice.  

Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein Recognized as a Top South Florida Law Firm for Hiring and Promoting Women

Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein, P.A was recognized in the Daily Business Review as one of the top three law firms in South Florida in its rate of hiring and promoting female attorneys. 

OTHER HONORS / PUBLICATIONS

Mark Hicks was been selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2014 edition of The Best Lawyer in America in the practice areas of Appellate Law and Commercial Litigation. Irene Porter was selected in the area of Insurance Law and Dinah Stein was selected in the area of Appellate Practice. Best Lawyer is based upon peer-review surveys of more than 2.8 million confidential evaluations by top attorneys

Mark Hicks and Dinah Stein have been recognized as "SuperLawyers" from 2006-2014

Dinah Stein was published in the Spring 2010 edition of Trial Advocate Quarterly for her article Florida's "Three Strikes" Legislation: A Defense Perspective.

The Daily Business Review, a preeminent daily newspaper that covers business and law in South Florida, recognized Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein attorneys Mark Hicks and Dinah Stein as two of South Florida's three "Most Effective Lawyers" once in the last 3 years in the area of appellate practice for their work in reversing one of Florida's largest individual verdicts in Sta-Rite Industries v. Lewis J. Levey, personal representative of the estate of Lorenzo Peterson. In Sta-Rite Industries, Mr. Hicks and Ms. Stein, on behalf of their client, a pool pump manufacturer, obtained a reversal of a judgment based on a jury verdict of more than $104 million in this products liability action.

PROMINENT HPE&S APPELLATE DECISIONS

Burns v. Palms West Hospital, 139 So.3d 867 (Fla. 2014).

In Burns, the Supreme Court wrote an opinion after oral argument discharging its jurisdiction and letting stand the Fourth District’s decision holding that a plaintiff cannot avoid presuit and other requirements of the medical malpractice statutes by alleging administrative negligence in a case where a hospital allegedly negligently retained physicians who refused to treat uninsured patients in the emergency room resulting in the death of the plaintiff. 

McCulla v. Rell, 101 So.3d 878 (Fla. 2014). 

In McCulla, the Supreme Court decided, after oral argument, to discharge its jurisdiction and let stand the Second District’s decision holding that a presuit corroborating affidavit that only opines that additional investigation is required is insufficient and cannot be cured by the claimant’s attorney’s investigation, which included review of medical records and discussions with the patient and the medical expert.  The decision also clarifies that certiorari review is still available to review a trial court’s failure to dismiss a malpractice action when a corroborating affidavit is facially insufficient.

Dupont v. Sidran, No. 3D12-321, 2014 WL 1613656 (Fla. 3DCA 2014).

In Sidran, the Third District Court of Appeal reversed an order striking defendant-DuPont’s pleadings and entering a default judgment against it for a “fraud on the court” allegedly perpetrated by DuPont in its use, creation and representations concerning its document depository and collection related to its product Benlate. The Court of Appeal also reversed a subsequent multi-million dollar judgment against DuPont. The striking sanction had not only been entered in five separate Benlate products liability cases against DuPont but plaintiffs in other cases had also attempted to use the sanction order to obtain a default judgment against DuPont. The Court of Appeal’s unanimous and lengthy 65-page slip opinion finds that DuPont committed no wrongdoing and severely chastises plaintiff’s counsel for his deplorable litigation tactics and conduct.

Interline Brands, Inc. v. Chartis Specialty Ins. Co., 749 F.3d 962 (11th Cir 2014).

In Interline, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that an exclusion in a series of commercial general liability insurance policies for claims arising out of any act that violates laws that address the sending, transmitting or communicating of any material or information, by any means whatsoever, unambiguously excluded coverage for claims made against Interline for sending unwanted “junk” faxes in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. 

Third District Issues Decision on Medical Malpractice Cap: Weingrad v. Miles, 29 So. 3d 406 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010)

In a significant decision impacting judgments in medical malpractice cases, HPE&S represented the defendant in one of Florida's only appellate decisions addressing the applicability of the 2004 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice actions. The Miles had sued Dr. Weingrad for medical malpractice and were awarded a verdict of $1,516,104, which included $1,500,000 in non-economic damages. After the verdict, the defense moved to limit the damages pursuant to Florida Statute section 766.118, which imposes a cap of $500,000 on noneconomic damages for non-catastrophic injuries. The trial court refused to cap the damages, holding that because Mrs. Miles' injury occurred prior to the enactment of the caps statute, the statute could not be retroactively applied to plaintiffs' claims. Defendant appealed that decision to the Third District Court of Appeal.

During the pendency of the appeal, the Fourth District Court of Appeal issued an opinion holding that the caps statute may not be applied to actions that accrued prior to its enactment. However, on March 3, 2010, the Third District issued an opinion disagreeing with the Fourth District and holding that the caps statute can be applied to claims that accrued prior to the enactment of the statute, and ordering the trial court to limit the Miles' noneconomic damages to $500,000.

Judgment of $3,678,827 Affirmed in Case Brought by Bank Against Fidelity Insurer: St. Paul Mercury Insurance Co. v. Coconut Grove Bank, 21 So.3d 827, 2009 WL 2871604 (Fla. 3d DCA 2009)

In 2003, the plaintiff, Coconut Grove Bank, whom HPE&S represented as appellate counsel, discovered that a 14-year employee who had recently left the bank's employ had engaged in a massive kick-back scheme wherein he had improperly issued hundreds of loans for used cars in exchange for cash payments from the car dealers, resulting in multi-million dollar losses to the Bank. A months-long investigation revealed that the loans he had approved as a loan officer were so substandard that a large amount were virtually "destined to fail." Coconut Grove Bank sought indemnification from the defendant, St. Paul, which had issued a fidelity bond covering losses resulting from employee dishonesty. After St. Paul refused to pay, the Bank brought an action and recovered a verdict of $3,678,827. St. Paul appealed, asserting that a number of coverage defenses constituted grounds for reversal. The Third District affirmed the jury's verdict in all respects, holding that the jury was permitted to find that a termination clause covering prior dishonest acts did not apply, that the methodology used by the Bank's expert to calculate damages was proper, and that the trial court properly instructed the jury as to the meaning of fraudulent and dishonest acts

Limitation on Judgment of $30,990,161.10 affirmed: Lee Memorial Health System v. Edwards, 22 So. 3d 81 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009) (table)

Plaintiffs obtained a verdict of $30,990,161.10 against Lee Memorial Hospital in a medical malpractice action. After the verdict, the hospital moved to limit the judgment based on Florida Statute section 768.28, Florida's waiver of sovereign immunity statute. Plaintiffs contended that the hospital board had become sufficiently independent from the county commission so as to cause it to lose its status as a state entity and thus the protections of sovereign immunity. The trial court found that the hospital was protected by sovereign immunity, and plaintiffs appealed this ruling. HPE&S represented the hospital on appeal, contending in part that the hospital had not lost its status as an arm of the state. The Second District Court of Appeal agreed and affirmed the trial court's ruling that the hospital's liability would be limited to $200,000 pursuant to section 768.28.

Judgment on $104 Million Verdict Reversed: Sta-Rite Industries, Inc. v. Levey, 909 So. 2d 901 (Fla. 3d DCA 2004)

The plaintiff, Lorenzo Peterson, obtained a verdict against Sta-Rite, a pool pump manufacturer, in excess of $104 million for catastrophic brain damages Peterson received when his hand became caught in the suction of a pool drain, trapping him underwater for 12 minutes. Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein represented Sta-Rite on appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal, which reversed the judgment entered on the jury verdict and ordered a new trial. The Third District held in part that the trial court improperly prevented Sta-Rite from asserting the comparative fault of non-parties when it artificially divided the single occurrence into separate accidents, and that the evidence did not support the jury's damages award of $104,409,053.20. The Florida Supreme Court declined to review the Third District's decision.

Judgment on $83 Million Verdict Reversed: Palmas Y Bambu, S.A. v. E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, 881 So. 2d 565 (Fla. 3d DCA 2004), Rehearing denied May 26, 2004, Review denied February 9, 2005

Plaintiffs, two Costa Rican nurseries who alleged damages from using Benlate, a fungicide produced by DuPont, obtained a jury verdict of $83 million against DuPont in a products liability and RICO action. Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein, represented DuPont in an appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal, which reversed the jury verdict in its entirety and also held that DuPont was entitled to a directed verdict on the nurseries' RICO claims. The Florida Supreme Court declined to review the Third District's decision.

Judgment of $19,214,689.63 Affirmed: Superior Construction Co. v. Brock, 445 F.3d 1334, 2006 A.M.C. 1038 (11th Cir. 2006)

Plaintiffs were seven boat passengers who were injured when the pleasure boat on which they were riding allided with a stationary barge being used by Defendant Superior Construction Company on a bridge construction project. Superior appealed from a total judgment of $19,214,689.63 in economic and noneconomic damages entered in favor of the plaintiffs. Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein represented six of the seven plaintiffs in Superior's appeal to the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, finding in part that the mooring of the barge constituted an obstruction of navigation in violation of the federal statute prohibiting obstructions of navigable waters. The appellate court also agreed that the boat driver's legal intoxication could not have been the cause of allision with barge, and that the damages awards were not clearly erroneous.

Judgment on $2.7 Million Verdict Reversed: Kohler Co. v. Marcotte, 907 So. 2d 596 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005

The plaintiff obtained a $2.7 million verdict against Kohler Co., the manufacturer of a lawnmower engine, on behalf of a child whose hand was injured when it came into contact with the engine. Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein represented Kohler in an appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal, which reversed the judgment entered on the verdict and held that Kohler was entitled to a judgment in its favor as a matter of law. The Florida Supreme Court declined to review the Third District's decision.

$5.6 Million Judgment Reversed: TICO v. Schonning, 30 Fla. L. Weekly D975 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005)

In this insurance coverage and bad faith action, the trial court struck the defendant insurers' pleadings for alleged discovery misconduct and entered a judgment against the defendants in the amount of $5,610,900. Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein represented the insurers in an appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal, which reversed the judgment entered by the trial court, holding that trial court had abused its discretion in failing to hold an evidentiary hearing on the alleged discovery abuses

Summary Judgment Affirmed in Action Involving Multi-Million Dollar Trust: Bisson v. de Arellano, 909 So. 2d 917 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005)

Lisette Arrellano Bisson had sued her mother and trustees of certain trusts established by her grandmother, alleging that she was wrongly deprived of a multi-million dollar inheritance from her grandmother. The trial court awarded summary final judgment to the mother, and the granddaughter appealed. Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein represented Appellee Manuel Jorge Cutillas in the granddaughter's appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal, which affirmed the entry of summary final judgment and held that the granddaughter failed to establish that her mother deprived the granddaughter of an inheritance. The Florida Supreme Court declined to review the Third District's decision.

Summary Judgment Affirmed on $6 Million Consent Judgment: Lamar v. RLI Insurance Co., 905 So. 2d 157 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005)

The personal representative of a judgment creditor's estate sued RLI Insurance Co., the judgment debtor's personal umbrella liability insurer, to collect a $6 million consent judgment arising out of a slip and fall accident at an apartment complex owned and managed by the debtor's companies. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of RLI, and the personal representative appealed. Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein represented RLI in the appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal, which affirmed the summary judgment in favor of RLI, holding that the landlord's commercial general liability policy covering the landlord's owner as an additional insured was not a "personal liability policy" within the meaning of the owner's personal umbrella liability policy. Because the personal umbrella liability policy excluded coverage for injuries arising out of business pursuits or business or rental properties unless covered by the underlying primary policies, the Third District agreed that there was no coverage.

Judgment on $2,750,000 Verdict Reversed: Posner v. Walker, 930 So. 2d 659 (Fla. 3d DCA 2006)

An orthopedic surgeon and his professional association were sued by the surviving husband and son of a former patient, who contended that the doctor's treatment of the patient for chronic pain made it foreseeable that she would become addicted to prescription narcotics, obtain a fatal dosage of narcotics from another physician, and accidentally overdose on those drugs. A jury awarded the plaintiffs $2.75 million, and Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein represented the defendants in an appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal. The Third District reversed the judgment in its entirety, holding that the defendants were entitled to a judgment in their favor as a matter of law based upon the plaintiffs' failure to establish any causal link between their allegations of negligence and the patient's death.

Issue of First Impression in Workers' Compensation Case: Murillo v. Tri-State Employment Services, 925 So. 2d 376 (Fla. 1st DCA 2006)

The First District, for the first time in a Florida reported decision, upheld an award of attorney's fees against a claimant's attorney in a workers' compensation action for frivolously continuing proceedings against the wrong insurance carrier, which was Hicks, Porter, Ebenfeld & Stein, P.A 's client. The First District further ruled that the lower tribunal maintained jurisdiction over the carrier's attorney's fees claim, even after the claimant dismissed the carrier from the proceedings.

HICKS, PORTER, EBENFELD & STEIN - TRIAL NEWS

In Great American Ins. Co. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, 574 F.Supp.2d 1294 (S.D. Fla. 2008), HPE&S obtained a Final Judgment on July 7, 2008 in favor of our client, National Union, and against Great American, requiring Great American to reimburse National Union for (1) the $3,125,000 that National Union contributed toward an underlying settlement on and (2) the prejudgment and post-judgment interest thereon. In addition to this judgment entered in HPE&S' client's favor on the counterclaim that we filed on their behalf, we also prevailed on summary judgment on the main claim. The main claim by Great American asserted that it was entitled to reimbursement for its $1,125,000 contribution to the same underlying settlement. The legal issues involved the priorities of various layers of insurance coverage and whether a general contractor was an additional insured under the National Union policy issued to a subcontractor.

In Travelers v. Seitlin & Company, Case No. 04-18392 CA 15 (Fla. 11th Cir. Ct. 2006), following a bench trial, the circuit court found in favor of HPE&S' client and awarded it $1 million, plus pre-judgment interest of nearly $250,000, on claims for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and negligence. HPE&S represented an insurance carrier that had paid $1 million to settle an underlying personal injury action due to the defendant insurance agency's failure to disclose an automobile accident before adding hired and non-owned auto excess coverage to a commercial policy.

In Madey v. Procida Tile, et. al., Case No. 05-027989 PTT (Fla. DOAH OJCC 2006), following a two-and-a-half day trial, the Judge of Compensation Claims found in favor of HPE&S' client, holding that it had no liability and that another entity was solely liable for the claimant's damages of approximately $1 million plus attorney's fees and costs in excess of $100,000.

 

     
 
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