Articles Posted in Law & Information

In the state of Florida, even if a person reaches a settlement with a negligent party, it doesn’t mean he or she will automatically collect the promised compensation – especially if the settlement falls under Florida’s “sovereign immunity” law.

The personal injury attorneys at Farah & Farah in Jacksonville recently discovered a story that exemplifies the complex and frustrating aspects of sovereign immunity protections in Florida – and underscores why you need an experienced and tenacious law firm on your side when dealing with a public entity.

In 2008, an elderly man was hit by a Palm Beach County School bus, and the school board agreed to pay him $1.9 million in compensation for damages.

Done deal. Right?

Wrong.

Because of Florida’s sovereign immunity law, the maximum a plaintiff can collect from a public entity is $200,000, plus an extra $100,000 for dependents where that applies. If the award is higher than that, a plaintiff now faces a byzantine process called a “claims bill.” In a nutshell, the Florida legislature must pass a special law to approve any higher compensation for a plaintiff. This requires the hiring of a lobbyist, finding sponsors, getting committee votes and seeking passage of the bill in the House and Senate.
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Amidst heated debate on both sides of the issue, the Florida Legislature sent a divorce reform bill to the governor that would cap alimony payments. The bill (SB 118) was recently approved by the House and had been approved by the Senate earlier in the month. It incorporates changes in divorce law that would eliminate permanent alimony in certain cases and would implement several other changes when factoring in alimony payments.

According to NorthEscambia.com, the bill would make alimony payment subject to a tiered system based on the length of a marriage. The legislation now before the governor would make it more difficult for a woman (or man) to receive alimony if the marriage lasted less than 11 years. For couples ending longer-term marriages, permanent alimony payments could still be a viable option. The bill considers 11-19 years a moderate-term marriage, 20 years or more is considered a long-term marriage.

Those who support the bill say that it is fair and would take the gamesmanship out of divorce. Rep. Elizabeth Porter (R-Lake City) said, “You shouldn’t be paying a lifetime of servitude on a short-term marriage.”
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The Florida personal injury law firm of Farah & Farah is proud to announce that we are one of six local companies that have offered financial commitments in support of Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown’s drive to create new public-private partnerships in order to make Jacksonville a better place to live and work.

President Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker at the May 11, Jacksonville economic summit in which the mayor called for a new public/private consortium committed to work for the betterment of Jacksonville.

“When I say, ‘One City, one vision,’ I mean just that,” Mayor Brown said at the summit. “We are stronger together, and I am humbled and honored to be mayor of a city where so many businesses, organizations and individuals are willing to put forth resources and personal time to ensure that we continue to move the needle forward on key priorities such as education, veterans services, quality of life and our local economy.”
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Because of a growing demand from consumers who don’t want antibiotics used on meat-producing livestock before slaughter, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday, January 4, issued an order requiring farmers to stop using the antibiotic group cephalosporins. Unless meat is raised organically, just before animals are slaughtered, cows, turkeys, pigs, and chickens are injected with the antibiotic, purportedly to reduce the number of infections animals share in confined modern farming (also known as ‘factory farming’).

This is the same class of drugs that humans rely on to treat pneumonia, bacterial infections, salmonella infections, and other life-threatening diseases, reports the St. Augustine Record. Using the same drug in a food source renders them useless, and humans really need them to fight disease since the bacteria in the body has evolved to develop resistance to the antibiotic. Antibiotic resistant strains of superbugs have evolved in recent years, so supporters say it’s about time to stop using antibiotics in food sources.
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jury-2943953.jpgThe study is called Headline Blues and it comes from the nonprofit Center for Justice and Democracy (CJD) at New York Law School. The report analyzes the coverage plaintiff verdicts are given and the hype and hysteria that feed the myths of “frivolous lawsuits” and giant jury awards. The Orlando personal injury attorneys at Farah & Farah understand that the real story is quite different.

The first study, Reading Between the Headlines, done by CJD in 2001 was followed by the book, Distorting the Law, which looked at the media’s coverage of lawsuits and their aftermaths from 1980 to 1999. All of these studies find the same thing – that people are increasingly moving away from newspapers and are seeing the news online or in brief news headlines on commercial broadcasts. Instead of a thoughtful analysis of the verdict and the behavior of the at-fault party, we are reduced to news tidbits that sensationalize civil verdicts and offer incomplete coverage that omit relevant information or completely skew the story.
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The data is in on the number of Floridians who have lost their driver’s license because they are mentally or physically unfit. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles stated that the number has more than doubled to 7,716 in 2010 from 3,559 in 2000. The trend may be attributed to older drivers who have lost their license because of dementia, seizures, and stroke.

According to a report in The South Florida Sun Sentinel, someone who is impaired can be reported to the state by a family member, a stranger, or a professional and happen after the driver has been in an accident, observed driving recklessly, or seemed confused.

If a driver indicates he has a medical condition, Florida will request more information. If the driver fails or refuses to submit additional detailed medical information showing why he or she should stay behind the wheel, he or she could lose the privilege to drive.
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With all of the questions surrounding the safety of children’s vaccinations it is not surprising that parents are backing off, despite doctor recommendations that vaccines be given on schedule. Now a survey to be published in the journal Pediatrics finds that 13 percent of parents in the U.S. vary from the recommended schedule and 2 percent choose not to vaccinate their children at all.

Vaccines are given to children age six months to six years to prevent outbreaks of communicable diseases such as whopping cough and measles. Even a small decline in the number of vaccines tends to result in a disease outbreak said the researcher in charge of the survey.
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According to Census data released Tuesday, September 13, Florida has the third highest number of people who went without health insurance for the past three years. With a national average of just under 16 percent, almost 21 percent of the state’s residents do not have health insurance and did not over the last three years.

Texas and New Mexico are the only two states whose rate of uninsured residents exceeds the number of uninsured in Florida.

This article in the Pensacola News Journal says Escambia County’s uninsured rate is even higher at about 25 percent. With Florida at one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, 10.7 percent in July, it makes sense that there is a corresponding lack of health insurance since many are covered through their work. Back in 2007-2008 the uninsured rate was 19.6 percent.
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With all the laws that didn’t make it on the books in Florida during the last legislative session, one that has to do with clothing, especially clothing that is not supposed to be seen, is being enforced. The “Pull Up Your Pants” bill requires Florida school districts to discipline students whose underwear shows. They are known as “Saggy Pants Laws” and they are being enacted all over the country. Illinois law enforcement will write a ticket for high school students with their boxers showing. And the ticket is a steep one – $750.00. Virginia is considering such a ban and the public bus system in Fort Worth, Texas turns away passengers with saggy pants. Winston-Salem and South Carolina are turning to education to stop the so-called stylish practice.

In Florida as school started last week, State Senator Gary Siplin visited a number of Orlando high school and handed out belts to students who might need a little more support. He is the lawmaker behind the ban which carries only a punishment similar to a dress code violation. That can include up to three days of an in-school suspension.
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It happens every day – a motorist sees a speed trap then flashes their vehicle’s lights so oncoming cars are warned in advance. Most people don’t understand that they can receive a ticket for that in Florida, or can they? An Oviedo law firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of a 22-year-old motorist who was on her way to school one morning when she received a ticket for flashing her lights to warn other motorists. She was told by the officer she had broken the law, but what law?

She filed a lawsuit, challenged the ticket and won, something 2,900 other motorists are hoping happens to them in another lawsuit filed Wednesday, August 24 in Tallahassee. The motorists all received tickets from 2005 to 2009 and were told flashing their lights was against the law. However, there is no law against flashing your lights. Officers were merely misinterpreting a law against putting emergency lights on their vehicles.
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