Disciplined in Sophisticated Defense and Insurance Litigation

February 22, 2016 | Publication| Flying Witnesses: Admissibility of Drone-Gathered Evidence in Florida

James Michael Shaw , Jr., Ryan K. Hilton

This article was originally published in the Winter 2016 edition of Trial Advocate Quarterly. Reprinted with permission.

If reported surveys are accurate, Americans are ambivalent about the potential consequences of operating drones in both the public and private sectors; however, mixed feelings do not seem to be slowing the growth in their ownership and use. It seems inevitable that trial courts will be called on to exclude or admit evidence that was gathered remotely with the use of a drone. This article explains the legal framework the Florida courts will use when ruling on the admissibility of drone-gathered evidence.  Read the entire article here.

November 29, 2017 PublicationExisting Tools to Curb Runaway Attorney FEE Awards

Florida provides one of the most generous insurance fee-shifting mechanisms in the nation. The lure of a large attorney fee award has spawned the very litigation that the fee-shifting statute was intended to avoid. It is common for attorneys representing insureds to file lawsuits over matters that could easily be resolved informally or to drive up a fee claim by unnecessarily aggressive litigation. Courts often reward these tactics by failing to adjust a claim for attorney fees to account for unnecessary litigation, or, worse, by applying a contingency fee multiplier. But courts can only respond to arguments made by the litigants. Florida law provides existing tools that, if applied, can help curb a runaway attorney fee award. This article sets out the current legal environment and discusses ways defendants can fend off a runaway attorney fee award.

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October 26, 2016 PublicationWhat's a Court to Consider After a Post-Suit Payment?

Most first-party insurance lawsuits are accompanied by a claim for attorneys' fees based on section 627.428, Florida Statutes. The operative language of this statute has been part of Florida law for over a century, and the cases interpreting that language are legion. On September 29, 2016 , the Florida Supreme Court issued its decision in Johnson v. Omega Insurance Co., which addressed the following issue...

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March 13, 2015 PublicationLiability and Damages: Understanding Property Insurance Bad Faith Litigation in Florida

Florida recognizes two general categories of insurance bad faith: first-party and third-party. A cause of action for third-party bad faith exists at common law, but also may be brought under the Florida bad faith statute. The essence of a cause of action for third-party bad faith is that the insurer breached its duty to its insured by failing to properly or promptly defend claim, which resulted in the insured being exposed to a judgment in excess of the coverage limits.

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March 01, 2015 PublicationRecent Legal Developments

The Florida Supreme Court in Delva v. Continental Group, Inc., 137 So. 3d 371 (Fla. 2014), held that pregnancy is a primary characteristic of the female sex and a natural condition unique to women. Discrimination based on pregnancy is therefore unlawful discrimination because of sex prohibited by the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992

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April 16, 2014 PublicationFlorida Statutes Create A New Challenge to Specialty Experts in Medical Malpractice Cases

For a copy of this article, please contact Brandon Blake.

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May 14, 2019 PublicationButler on Drones (Third Edition): A Practical Guide for Insurers

Drones – also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or unmanned aircraft systems ( UAS ) – have left no industry unaffected, and the insurance industry is perhaps affected most of all. Unlike manned aircraft, whose risks are largely confined to the industry’s aviation sector...

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January 26, 2018 PublicationPreemption In Aviation Product Liability Cases

Preemption is still a valid defense for manufacturers in aviation products liability cases.  A recent case out of the District Court in Pennsylvania, Sikkelee v. AVCO Corp., No. 4:07-CV-00886, 2017 WL 3317545 (M.D. Pa. Aug. 3, 2017), on reconsideration, No. 4:07-CV-00886, 2017 WL 3310953 (M.D. Pa. Aug. 3, 2017, granted judgment against a plaintiff’s products liability claim alleging, in part, negligent design because the claims were conflict preempted and could not proceed.  The case adds a new nuance to existing preemption law in aviation cases relating to aviation safety and products liability.

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September 26, 2017 PublicationBUTLER ON DRONES (Second Edition) : A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR INSURERS

Drones – also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or unmanned aircraft systems ( UAS ) – have left no industry unaffected, and the insurance industry is perhaps affected most of all. Unlike manned aircraft, whose risks are largely confined to the industry’s aviation sector, the affordability, versatility, and ubiquity of drones are bringing exposures to sectors of the insurance industry that were previously insulated from aviation risks. For these carriers especially, it is vitally important to acquaint themselves with this technology and the complex web of federal, state, and local laws that governs them. 

Request a copy of the EBook here.

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January 03, 2017 PublicationIf you invade someone's privacy with a drone, your insurance might not cover it

Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles or unmanned aerial systems, can be equipped with cameras, thermal scanners, license plate readers and facial-recognition software.

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As one of the nation’s most preeminent jurists put it, domestication of horses did not give rise to a “law of the horse,” and the rise of the Internet era did not give rise to a “law of cyberspace.”1 Likewise, the proliferation of drones will not give rise to a new area of law called “drone law.” What will happen instead is much more complex.

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