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Limiting Liabilities of Spaceflight in Florida: A Step Towards Space Tourism?

Limiting Liabilities of Spaceflight in Florida: A Step Towards Space Tourism?

Fifty years ago, the world held its breath as it could hear and see mankind walk upon the surface of another world. Fast-forward to today and a lot has changed: technology, politics, and the space race, but still no casino on the Moon as in Andy Weir’s book Artemis. Even though we have access to over 100,000 times the processing power in our small, half-pound smartphone, as compared to the 70-pound behemoth known as the Apollo Guidance Computer, Commercialized Space, specifically Space Tourism, is still in its infancy. However, that slowly started to change when the United States enacted the Commercial Space Launch Act and retired its Space Shuttle Program. Companies such as Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Orion Span, and Boeing (to name just a few) have started the slow ascent into commercializing spaceflight with some even providing launch vehicles to both the government and commercial companies at a reduced cost. In order to keep U.S. companies in competition with the rest of the world, the United States passed the previously mentioned Commercial Space Launch Act (“Launch Act”). The Launch Act requires companies to either obtain third-party liability insurance[1] or show it has the financial responsibility in order to cover third-party claims up to the maximum probability loss (“MPL”) when the company is issued a launch or reentry license by the United State Government. Each MPL is determined on a case-by-case basis; however, the cap is set at $500 million in 1988 dollars. Adjusting to current market inflation, that […]

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Misuse of the Declaratory Judgment Act: When Declaratory Judgment Actions are Brought in Conjunction with an Action for Breach of Contract

Misuse of the Declaratory Judgment Act: When Declaratory Judgment Actions are Brought in Conjunction with an Action for Breach of Contract

In situations where a plaintiff has asserted a cause of action against an insurance carrier for breach of the insurance contract and declaratory relief, the declaratory action is frequently based upon the same underlying facts and alternatively seeks a declaration that the contract was breached by the insurer. Thus, courts are left to make the same determination in the declaratory judgment action as the determination sought in the breach of contract action – whether or not the carrier breached the contract by denying coverage that was otherwise available.  Under Florida’s declaratory judgment act, [t]he circuit and county courts have jurisdiction within their respective jurisdictional amounts to declare rights, status, and other equitable or legal relations whether or not further relief is or could be claimed. No action or procedure is open to objection on the ground that a declaratory judgment is demanded. The court’s declaration may be either affirmative or negative in form and effect and such declaration has the force and effect of a final judgment. The court may render declaratory judgments on the existence, or nonexistence: (1) Of any immunity, power, privilege, or right; or (2) Of any fact upon which the existence or nonexistence of such immunity, power, privilege, or right does or may depend, whether such immunity, power, privilege, or right now exists or will arise in the future. Any person seeking a declaratory judgment may also demand additional, alternative, coercive, subsequent, or supplemental relief in the same action. § 86.011, Fla. Stat. However, “disputed questions […]

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Florida Supreme Court Rules Frye, not Daubert, is the Appropriate Test in Florida Courts

In April of 2013, the Florida Legislature passed a bill to amend the statutory standard for admission of expert testimony at trial, adding Florida to a long list of states rejecting the longstanding Frye standard and adopting the current federal standard, known as Daubert, in its place.  However, in the five years since it became effective, challenges to the constitutionality of the amendment has generated much debate and confusion regarding how an expert’s opinion is evaluated to determine whether it may be offered at trial.  A trial judge in Florida has broad discretion to determine the subject matter of an expert’s testimony; however, the court is bound to and must nonetheless follow applicable law.  Earlier this week the Florida Supreme Court released its opinion in DeLisle v. Crane Co., No. SC16-2182 (Fla. Oct. 15, 2018), weighing in on what the law actually is – and according to the court, the winner is Frye. Prior to the 2013 amendment, section 90.702, Florida Statutes, stated: If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact in understanding the evidence or in determining a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify about it in the form of an opinion; however, the opinion is admissible only if it can be applied to evidence at trial. As amended in 2013, section 90.702 provides: Testimony by experts.—If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the trier of fact in understanding the […]

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The Use of Underwriting in Claim Evaluation

The evaluation and acceptance of risk is an essential part of determining whether to issue an insurance policy, the amount of coverage, and the premium the insured should pay for the amount of coverage.  This article, written by Shareholder, Reed Grimm, discusses the significance of underwriting and its potential to impact claim denials.   A_Long_Fly_Ball_is_Still_an_Out_-_Grimm

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It is Never Too Late To Get Started on a New Path To Success!

It is Never Too Late To Get Started on a New Path To Success!

Marsa’s “journey-to-attorney” definitively proves it is never too late to change your life.  Before obtaining her Juris Doctorate, she worked for more than 20 years as a paralegal.  Her love for writing and research, attention to detail and dedicated work ethic prompted strong encouragement from her then-boss and mentor to sit for the LSAT.  “He’s one of the good ones.  He embodied the type of attorney I wanted to be.” Marsa joined the firm immediately following her graduation in 1995 and has been valued member of the team since.  She focuses her practice on Insurance Coverage & Bad Faith, Personal Injury Protection, Professional & Medical Malpractice and Appeals.  She fondly recalls one of her most memorable cases was an appeal she co-counseled with founding member John Taylor, advocating for minors cheated out of insurance benefits by their “guardian.”  The case was decided by the Florida Supreme Court, based on her brief, on an issue previously not ruled upon in Florida law. In her more than 20+ years as an attorney, she continues advocating for her clients and inspiring those around her to find the courage to change their own life path. View her bio to learn more about Marsa or her areas of practice.

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The Slavin Defense’s Application to a Contractor’s Claims Against Its Subcontractors

The Slavin Defense’s Application to a Contractor’s Claims Against Its Subcontractors

Oftentimes, subcontractors raise the so-called Slavin Doctrine as an affirmative defense to third-party indemnity claims brought by general contractors in construction defect matters. Under the Slavin Doctrine, a contractor cannot be held liable for injuries sustained by third parties when the injuries occur after the contractor completed its work, the owner of the property accepted the contractor’s work, and the defects causing the injury were patent.1 Typically, subcontractors argue the Slavin Doctrine excuses a defective construction claim if the evidence concludes 1) a third party claims injury or damages after the work is complete, 2) the property owner accepted the contractor’s work, and 3) the defect causing the injury was apparent, or patent. For example, the Slavin Defense might be raised by a general contractor in response to a condominium association’s claim that the windows suffer from condensation and require repair or replacement, if it can be shown the developer accepted the windows and approved their installation, the contractor completed the work, and the condensation issue is apparent. However, oftentimes subcontractors, too, assert the defense against the general contractor that is seeking indemnity due to an owner’s claims of defective construction, arguing the elements of the defense are met and, therefore, the subcontractor is absolved of the claims brought by the general contractor.

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