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

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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.

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How Investment Properties Can Harm the Market and Helpful Solutions

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By Michael J Posner

One of the effects of the great mortgage foreclosure recession is the large increase in rental properties in communities that were once generally owner-occupied (i.e., primary residences or vacation homes).

As prices plummeted after the foreclosure, investor groups sprung up to buy the now-cheap properties and turn them into rental properties as a long-term investment. One such company is Invitation Homes, founded in 2012, that now owns 80,000 properties in seventeen markets, including a substantial number in South Florida. A Property Appraiser search for IH3-IH6 Property Florida, LP (subsidiaries of Invitation Homes) showed ownership of 1,138 homes in Palm Beach County alone almost all available for rent.

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Want to Live Longer and Make Work Easier? Reach For Meaning in Your Daily Tasks

By I. Jeffrey Pheterson

We all want to live in a better world, though our definitions of what that looks like may differ.

Do you do something every day that is meaningful to you, something that adds purpose or passion to your daily activities? Do you have a driving force behind you that adds fire to your days and gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning?

If so, you may be making yourself more productive at work, and you may even become physically healthier as a result.

Current social science research is revealing data that shows what positive results will occur for those who act in ways that promote meaning or purpose in their lives. Each day brings its challenges, but how we react to them is key. Regardless of the trials we may face, we all have a lot to be thankful for. That’s why gratitude is so important.  

However, according to recent research, a positive attitude is not enough. You must also operate with a purpose in mind. Below are two recent examples of this research: Continue reading

No White Space Required: Save Our Trees and Your Secretaries

secretary-338561_640by Denise J. Bleau, Esquire

Ward Damon has seen a number of legal documents a bit unusual in appearance in court pleadings around Palm Beach County.  After some examination, we noticed an erroneous interpretation by local law firms of a Florida Supreme Court ruling was at fault.

In December, 2014, the Clerk and Comptroller, Palm Beach County issued a global email entitled “New mandates for recording space and space for date and time stamps on documents.”  The content of the email stated: Continue reading

Managing Stress and Balanced Living

balance-110850_640By Eddie Stephens, Esquire

As a busy board certified divorce attorney, I put a lot of effort into managing stress and living a balanced life.  I have been doing this for 18 years and can honestly tell you I live a very happy life.

During those 18 years I have developed many skills for dealing with stress and anxiety.  Here are some of my favorite tips:  Continue reading