A “Game of Thrones” War Over Expert Testimony in Florida

justice-2060093_1920

By Jason E. Handin

A struggle has been brewing in the State of Florida for the last six years akin to the power struggles in the popular HBO® show, Game of Thrones.  On May 23, 2019, the Supreme Court of Florida most recently changed Florida law requiring compliance with the Daubert standard when determining admissibility of expert testimony in Florida courts, which is the third time the standard has been changed since 2013.

When proceeding to trial in a lawsuit, there are two types of witness testimony.

  1. The first type of testimony is lay witness testimony, which is testimony based upon what the witness personally perceived and which does not require any special knowledge, skill, experience, or training, as set forth in Florida Rule of Evidence 701.
  2. The second type of testimony is expert witness testimony. An “expert witness” is defined by Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.390(a) as “a person duly and regularly engaged in the practice of a profession who holds a professional degree from a university or college and has had special professional training and experience, or one possession of special knowledge or skill about the subject upon which called to testify.”  In many lawsuits, testimony offered by qualified expert witnesses can be the sole factor that changes the outcome of trial.

The impact and weight of expert testimony—as well as opinions on what is the proper standard—has caused a split between two out of three of the Florida state government’s independent branches: the Florida Legislature and the Supreme Court of Florida, as well as a split among the Supreme Court of Florida’s individual justices.  Due to this division, the road to establishing the standard by which expert testimony is admissible has been as rocky as the Iron Islands’ cliffs or the Wall’s ice shelves.

Continue reading

When Business Gets Tough: What You Need to Know About Shareholder Litigation

By Christopher B. Posner

Do you own stock in a public or private corporation? Do you feel that the corporation is not properly addressing certain issues or that a director is abusing their power? Perhaps you feel that the corporation has infringed upon your rights as a shareholder.

Sometimes business gets tough and it’s good to know your options as a company shareholder. Depending on the type of harm you are alleging, you may want to look into bringing forward either a shareholder derivative or a direct lawsuit.

Continue reading

Building or Renovating? 6 Must-Do Steps When Hiring a Contractor

adult-architect-blueprint-416405

By Jason E. Handin

A fresh start can be exciting, especially when it comes to building a new home or renovating a current home. However, for homeowners inexperienced in working with contractors or design professionals, the undertaking of a major construction project can be a daunting task. The highest probability for success in a construction project relies upon the homeowner being educated in protecting themselves against any potential conflicts that may arise.

In this article are six important steps to take when hiring a contractor or design professional for a new build or renovation.

Continue reading

6 Insurance Tips for After the Storm

By Ana P. Moretto

Hurricane season is upon us once more. If you are a home or business owner whose property was affected by a hurricane, storm, or other natural disaster, here are some tips for filing an insurance claim and what to do if you need help.

Continue reading

What Can Happen When a Commercial Lease Defaults?

hands-1063442_1920

By Labeed Choudhry

Modern commercial leases can be dozens of pages long and contain a vast number of provisions spread over many paragraphs.  Some of these provisions, such as those relating to the amount of rent and operations of the premises, are looked at and negotiated quite thoroughly by the parties.  Most of the other provisions however are routinely ignored as dense legalese and the parties, especially the tenant, pay little attention to what they say.

One often overlooked provision relates to the acceleration of rent upon default in payment by the tenant.  While language can vary according to the specifics of a lease, the general function of an acceleration provision is to allow the landlord to make a claim for the entire rent due under the remaining life of a lease if the tenant defaults during the middle of lease term rather than having to wait for rent as it comes due before making a claim for it.  For example, if a tenant defaults after one year of a five-year lease where the rent was $1,000 a month, the landlord can demand $48,000 (the amount to be paid under the remaining term of the lease) immediately without having to demand an additional $1,000 every month for the remainder of the lease term. While the accelerated rent is usually reduced to its present value, it can still be a hefty sum. Continue reading