Case Law Update – August/September


Hamm v. PMI Employee Leasing, et al, 39 FLW D722, 1st DCA, April 7, 2014. Jurisdiction – Death benefits – Where no Petition For Benefits or other claim for death benefits had been filed, Judge of Compensation Claims did not have jurisdiction to address employer/ carrier’s motion seeking to determine beneficiaries of death benefits.

Hernando County Sheriff’s Office, et al v. Sikalos, 39 FLW D1333, 1st DCA, opinion filed June 25, 2014. Temporary total disability – Offset – Benefits from workers’ compensation and collateral sources exceeding 100% of average weekly wage – Deputy sheriff – In-line-of-duty disability benefits – Judge of Compensation Claims properly excluded from offset calculation claimant’s in-line-of-duty disability benefits where claimant contributed to the pension fund supplying those benefits – Fact that in-line-of-duty disability benefit fund is maintained by State, not by claimant’s employer does not change result.


Christensen v. Bowen, 39 FLW S214, Sup. Ct. of Fla., April 10, 2014. Wrongful death – Automobile accident – Vicarious liability – Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine – Beneficial ownership exception – A person whose name is on the certificate of title of a vehicle as co-owner cannot avoid vicarious liability under the “beneficial ownership” or “naked legal title” exception to vicarious liability under the Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine.

Star Insurance Company v. Dominiguez, et al, 39 FLW D1337, 2nd DCA, opinion filed June 25, 2014. Wrongful death – Nonjoinder of insurer in action against insured – Trial Court departed from essential requirements of law by denying excess liability insurer’s Motion to Dismiss count in which Personal Representative sought declaratory judgment to determine nature and extent of coverage under policy issued by insurer to defendant county, which owned and operated tractor-trailer rig involved in accident in which decedent was killed – Conditions precedent had not been met where plaintiff had not obtained judgment or settlement on wrongful death claim against county.

Gray v. Richbell, et al, 39 FLW D1424, 4th DCA, July 9, 2014. Wrongful death – Automobile accident – Discovery – Compulsory neurological medical examination – Circuit Court departed from essential requirements of law in ordering compulsory neurological examination of defendant where it was not defendant’s mental or physical health that was at issue, but whether he was negligent in failing to avoid decedent’s car when it veered into his lane of traffic.

GEICO Casualty Company v. Barber, 39 FLW D1727, 5th DCA, opinion filed August 15, 2014. Uninsured motorist – Jurisdiction – Once insurer confessed judgment for its policy limits, Trial Court lacked jurisdiction to take any action other than .to enter judgment in amount of UM policy limits in favor of insured – Trial Court departed. from essential requirements of law by allowing insured to amend Complaint to add count for declaratory judgment to determine apportionment of liability and total amount of damages suffered by insured – Insured not precluded from litigating damages issue on bad-faith claim, which is separate .and distinct from the judgment entered in this case based on insurer’s contractual obligations under policy.

Tampa Chiropractic Center, Inc., v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 39 FLW D1441, 5th DCA, opinion filed July 11, 2014. Personal injury protection – Attorney’s fees – Confession of judgment – Where insurer stated that it would not pay medical provider’s claims until provider complied with insurer’s requests for documents, insurer instituted declaratory judgment action, provider filed Counterclaim seeking declaration that insurer’s document requests were outside scope of statute, insurer requested declaration that it’s document requests were proper, and both parties filed Motions For Summary Judgment, it was error for Trial Court to enter summary judgment for insurer on basis that Court no longer had jurisdiction because insurer paid the disputed claims – In light of insurer’s position that it would not pay claims until provider produced the requested documents, provider was forced to file declaratory judgment suit – If insurer paid claims after provider filed its Counterclaim, this constituted a confession of judgment, entitling provider to attorney’s fees – Court should award attorney’s fees to provider for claims paid after provider filed its counterclaim.