There’s been considerable teeth gnashing about a 2013 Florida law allowing politicians to hold their assets in blind trusts, and withhold from public disclosure specification of the assets held in those trusts. But the debate is only theoretical at this point, according to Florida’s First District Court of Appeal. For that reason, in its opinion
The judges of Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal can apply the same sharp analysis to solve financial quandaries as they use to parse complex legal issues. That’s what attendees of yesterday’s meeting of the Appellate Practice Section of the Broward County Bar Association learned.
The 4th DCA–which hears appeals from Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie…
Long before foreclosure lawsuits flooded Florida court dockets, chief judges here and throughout the country were fretting over how to deal with the even more daunting “asbestos-litigation crisis” [Amchem Products, Inc. v. Windsor, 521 U.S. 591, 597 (1997)] That ongoing and seemingly endless litigation has been flooding the courts since the 1960s and in the words of Justice Souter, “defies customary judicial administration.” Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp., 527 U.S. 815 (1999).
Other mass torts (a/k/a toxic torts) have come and gone, but asbestos litigation – the first of the species – lives on. As long as it does, so will legislative and judicial efforts to control, limit, or end asbestos litigation.
Joining several other states, the Florida Legislature passed legislation aimed at curbing asbestos litigation in 2005. Asbestos plaintiff lawyers, who had lobbied hard against the legislation’s passage, challenged it in court almost immediately.
On Friday, July 8, 2011, the Florida Supreme issued its long awaited decision in several of those challenges, American Optical Corporation v. Spiewak, Nos. 08-1616, 08-1640, 08-1617, & 08-1639. The Court declared the law to be unconstitutional as applied to anyone whose claims had “accrued,” but had not gone to trial, prior to July 1, 2005.
The decision allows a group of plaintiffs to sue who could not have sued under the legislation. The question is how large that group might be. According to Adolfo Pesquera’s article in the DBR, some are suggesting that this decision will “open the floodgates.” But I have serious doubts about that.
As I read the decision, it won’t affect anyone who wasn’t diagnosed before the asbestos reform law went into effect on July 1, 2005. According to the Court, if you were diagnosed before that date, it was unconstitutional for the legislation to deprive you of your right to sue, because your claim had already accrued.
But when your claim accrued, the statute of limitations started running on your claims. The statute of limitations is 4 years. It’s been almost 6 years since July 1, 2005. So if you didn’t haven’t filed suit already, it would seem to be too late now to do so.
So I’m not sure that any new suits can be filed. And if other plaintiffs did file suit, their cases would presumably have been dismissed long ago under the auspices of the reform law. Unless they were stayed pending the Court’s decision in American Optical, it would too late to revive most of them now.
A more detailed analysis of the backdrop of the case and the court’s analysis follows.
It turns out the Florida Senate may not be as cool as observers thought to House Speaker Dean Cannon’s proposed ballot amendment to restructure the Florida Supreme Court. This week Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff sponsored a Senate companion to one aspect of the House bill, Senate confirmation of Justices, Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of…
Is the Florida Supreme Court about to become a two-headed monster? Not yet, but that possibility became more realistic this morning.
John Kennedy of the Post on Politics blog of the Palm Beach Post reports that the Judiciary Committee of the Florida House approved Speaker Dean Cannon’s bill to send to the voters a…
If the Florida Supreme Court is bothered by its unpopularity in the Florida Legislature, its decision in Cohn v. Grand Condominium Ass’n, No. SC10-430, released last Thursday, doesn’t show it. In a case of particular relevance to Condominium Association lawyers, the Court had no trouble finding the Legislature’s 2007 amendment to Florida Statutes Section…