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Recent Florida Legislative Changes Impact Sureties' Exposure to Attorneys' Fees and Bad Faith Claims

Posted in Legal Alerts by Matthew G. Davis on Fri Apr 7, 2023

A few days ago, Governor DeSantis signed House Bill 837 into law enacting sweeping tort reforms.  This marks the second large scale reform to Florida law governing insurers and sureties in the last six months.  In December 2022, Florida eliminated the one-way attorneys’ fees provision for property insurance claims.  House Bill 837 goes further and eliminates one-way attorneys’ fees against insurers entirely. It also makes changes to statutes of limitations, comparative fault, and bad faith.  The bill does, however, expressly preserve claimants’ rights to recover reasonable attorneys’ fees for successful claims against construction payment and performance bond sureties. 

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Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida Confirms Surety's Objection to Discharge Because of Breach of Trust Fund Provision in Indemnity Agreement

Posted in Legal Alerts by Matthew G. Davis on Wed Jul 17, 2019

The Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida recently issued an important decision about a surety’s ability to object to an indemnitor’s discharge of its debt to the surety based upon an alleged breach of the indemnity agreement’s trust fund provision.

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Florida Legislature Requires Sworn Statement of Non-Payment as Condition Precedent to a Payment Bond Claim

Posted in Legal Alerts by Mattthew G. Davis on Wed Jul 17, 2019

In the 2019 legislative session, the Florida Legislature amended sections 255.05 (governing public projects) and 713.23 (governing private projects) requiring a notice of non-payment to be under oath.   The changes are contained in House Bill 1247 and pertain to subcontractors and materials suppliers not in privity with the prime contractor. 

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Florida Supreme Court Tosses Frye Out – Daubert is Now the Rule in Qualifying Expert Testimony

Posted in Legal Alerts by Mattthew G. Davis on Wed Jul 17, 2019

Recently, the Florida Supreme Court adopted the Daubert standard in the procedural evidence rules to qualify expert witness testimony at trial. See In re Amendments to the Fla. Evidence Code, No. SC19-107 (Fla. May 23, 2019). Before this decision, the Florida procedural evidence rules followed the Frye standard for admissibility of expert witness testimony at trial. The Court’s recent decision is a reversal of its longstanding support for Frye, and it heightens the evidentiary standard by which expert testimony may be admitted in Florida.

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Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal Rules Pre-Suit Notice under Chapter 558, Florida Statutes, is an “Action” for Purposes of the Statute of Repose

Posted in Legal Alerts by Jeffrey M. Paskert and Dara L. Dawson on Fri Sep 14, 2018

On September 12, 2018, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal rendered its opinion in Gindel v. Centex Homes, et al., which will impact construction defect litigation, and particularly the application of the ten-year statute of repose to construction defect cases.  In Gindel, homeowners sought to recover damages from their homebuilder for alleged construction defects in their homes.  The homeowners closed on and took possession of their homes in March 2004.  In February 2014, they served on the builder pre-suit notices of defects pursuant to Chapter 558, Florida Statutes.  Several months later, in May 2014, the homeowners filed suit against the builder.   read more