Articles Posted in Florida Law

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The State of Florida can now be liable for up to $200,000 per person and $300,000 per tort claim, effective Oct. 1, 2011. That’s up from the $100,000 and $200,000 caps that had been in existence for lawsuits against the state, its agencies or political subdivisions.

While the increase is welcome news to victims of governmental negligence, the new caps may still be woefully inadequate when it comes to compensating a victim for a personal injury, wrongful death, or other injuries caused by t. Suing the State of Florida is a complex process, which includes extensive pre-suit requirements and as such; Government liability claims in Florida require an experienced law firm. As these relatively modest caps indicate, identifying other entities that may be liable for damages can be critical when it comes to securing a victim adequate compensation in the wake of a serious injury or fatal accident. The sovereign immunity limits in Florida apply to schools, police departments, counties, and many other offices and agencies under state jurisdiction.1232540_statue_of_wisdom

Florida Statute 768.28 sets the still relatively low damage caps, which were previously unchanged for nearly three decades. Lawmakers contend the caps have deterred claims against the state as there is also 25 percent cap on attorney fees which provide for a maximum fee of $25,000 (or $50,000 under the new cap). While that may sound adequate to some, bringing a serious personal injury, auto accident, or wrongful death lawsuit to trial can cost a law firm hundreds of thousands of dollars. Whether in Fort Myers, Naples, or Fort Lauderdale, finding a firm with the resources to properly handle your case is an important consideration when choosing an attorney. Injured claimants must also consider that their lawyer will only get paid if they are successful in making a recovery on behalf of a client.

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Cases throughout Florida may end up coming unraveled if judges take note of what courts in Miami and Manatee County have done recently with drug cases that have been ruled unconstitutional, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports.

Cases of drug possession and drug sales may be dropped after Judge Mary Scriven, of the U.S. Middle District of Florida, ruled that Florida’s drug possession statute is unconstitutional because it lacks the element of intent — opponents argue that violates due process because it puts the legal burden on the defendant. Three circuit court judges have now asked the Florida Supreme Court to address the constitutionality question of Florida Statutes Section 893.13.

152342_no_smoking_4A Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorney who is familiar with recent case law can often use evolving law to a client’s advantage. These precedent setting cases typically start at the trial-court level when a defendant and experienced lawyer see a legal issue that permits them to fight the charges.

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With the recent announcement of a not guilty verdict in the Casey Anthony trial, many onlookers are left to wonder how and why a case that seemed like a slam dunk could result in Casey Anthony walking free.

The backlash was seen not only in emotional crowds outside the courtroom, and across various broadcast channels, but with the advent of the internet and real-time sharing, many shared their opinions through Facebook, Twitter, and blog posts.

As referenced in the Palm Beach Post, the case was referred to as “the social media trial of the century.” Amy Singer, jury consultant for Anthony’s defense team, went on to say that at one point “over one million people were blogging about the trial, not including the thousands more who were either tweeting, texting, or discussing the case in online chat rooms.”twitter_kim-300x112

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Nearly two years ago, a post here discussed the growing problem of unregulated pain-management clinics, so-called “pill mills,” and how South Florida – Broward County in particular – was ground zero.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, overdose deaths from painkillers are rivaling the No. 1 killer, traffic accidents. It attributes much of the increase to the overuse of prescription opiates such as OxyContin and Vicodin. In Florida, deaths from prescription-drug use rose from 2,780 in 2006 to 3,750 in 2008 – more than cocaine, according to the Florida Medical Examiners Commission.

You don’t even have to be a doctor to run a pain-management clinic. “You need a background check to get a liquor license — you can’t be a convicted felon and open up a bar — but you can be a convicted felon and open up a pain clinic,” says Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti.

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As of September 8, running a red light at some Broward County intersections will be captured on camera, and subject to a $158 fine.

In May, Gov. Charlie Crist signed HB 325 into law, authorizing local governments to use the cameras as enforcement devices, setting statewide standards and traffic fines for them.

The vehicle owner will receive a citation in the mail, but won’t be issued a traffic violation, so no license points; the owner can appeal the fine. The driver won’t be ticketed for rolling stops, or slowing down and approaching the intersection with caution. Drivers should note, though, that cities have 30 days to send the violations, so you could rack up multiple offenses that all arrive in the mail a month later.

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Back in 2008, the Florida Supreme Court ruled against parent liability waivers for a minor participating in activities at a commercial venue.

The wrongful-death case, Scott Corey Kirton v. Jordan Fields, involved 14-year-old Christopher Jones, killed in 2003 while riding an all-terrain vehicle at Thunder Cross Motor Sports Park in Okeechobee. His father had signed a risk and liability waiver as the facility required.

The high court’s ruling said the state had no statute supporting the waivers – and that wider public concerns cannot allow parents to waive the rights of minors to legal recourse when injury occurs. The releases served commercial interests more than the child, the court ruled, and the boy’s family was allowed to sue the track despite his father having signed the waiver.

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Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, say victorious supporters of Florida House Bill 187, the so-called “Bong Bill.” Their theory: fewer available smoking implements mean less firing up.

The new law, which passed the state Senate (SB 366) and House in April during the 2010 Legislative Session, went into effect July 1 and bans the sale of most “smoking devices” by businesses that don’t derive at least 75 percent of their income from tobacco sales, or make more than 25 percent from selling the prohibited items. Violators could be sentenced to a year in jail.

Fort Lauderdale Marijuana Defense Lawyer Speaks on Florida's New Bong LawThe second time was the charm for main bill sponsor Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, who also brought up the proposal in the House last year. Rouson said he championed the bill, which will also raise the tax on pipes and other paraphernalia, as a means of curbing drug use.

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In courtrooms around the state, it has long been the practice that juveniles were to be shackled by the wrists and ankles with belly chains, chained to furniture or chained to each other when they were brought to appear before a judge.

In this 6-1 opinion, The Florida Court stated,  that this process was “repugnant, degrading, humiliating and contrary to the primary purposes of the juvenile justice system.”

One of the primary goals oFort Lauderdale Juvenile Defense Lawyerf the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation and many have argued that this process actually harms the child and can have long lasting psychological consequences.

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Until now, drivers could only be cited for not wearing seat belts if they were pulled over for something else, such as speeding.

That changes today with the passage of the Dori Slosberg and Katie Marchetti Safety Belt Law. With the passage of this new law a Florida driver who is not wearing a seat belt can be pulled over and issued a traffic citation for a nonmoving violation.

The state fine for a seatbelt violation will be $35, and each county may impose additional fines and court fees as well. Drivers and passengers who are found in violation of the new law are subject to a $114 fine in Miami-Dade County and $115 fine in Broward County.

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According to the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, the shooting took place some time after 4 a.m. this past Friday when 44 year-old Sterlin F. Misener Jr confronted 19 year-old Patrick Hutchison after seeing the teen exit a camper that was parked in Misener’s Naples Driveway.

Misener told authorities that he awoke to the sound of a burglar alarm and shortly after saw Hutchinson exit a camper that was parked in his driveway. According to reports, a confrontation began and Misener stated that the teen lunged at him before he fired the fatal shot.

According to Florida Law, if a person has a reasonable belief that they’re in danger of death or great bodily harm, they can legally respond with deadly force. Further, that a person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm if the intruder had forcefully and unlawfully intered a dewlling, residence, or occupied vehicle.

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