Florida Legal Topics

Edgewater Legal News - Wrongful Death

The Law Office of Paul Bernardini

Airplane crash and wrongful death claim

In Nowicki v. Cessna the Fourth District Court of Appeals acknowledged that there is an exception to the eighteen-year statute of repose in federal General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994 actions when fraud is involved. This case dealt with an airplane crash and wrongful death claim. In Williams v. State of Florida, decided September 21, 2011, the Fourth District held that there was evidence sufficient to support a finding that the murder was premeditated, despite that the Defendant husband's defense o "heat of the moment". The Defendant husband admitted that he had prayed before killing his wife and this indicated that he had a fully conscience purpose to kill her and enough time to reflect on the nature of the act and was direct evidence of premeditation, as was his statement threatening to kill his wife to his former girlfriend a month before the murder. In R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Brown the Fourth District of the Supreme Court of Florida's decision in Engle v. Ligget Group, Inc. applied to an individual's case. The Engle case established the conduct and elements of strict liability and negligence claims. However, the remaining elements oflegal causation and damage still must be proven. The Fourth District also held that there was no error in a jury finding that the Defendant's negligence was a legal cause of death and that the smoker himself was 50% at fault. See R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Brown, 36 Fla. L. Weekly D2094, September 21, 2011.

Tobacco companies held liable under the theory of civil conspiracy

In the wrongful death case of Rey v. Philip Morris, decided by the Third District September 28, 2011, the Third District concluded that tobacco companies who did not make the brand of cigarettes that the decedent used, could nevertheless be held liable under the theory of civil conspiracy. Their conclusion read:

Wrongful Death & Boat Seaworthiness

In the wrongful death case of Flueras v. Royal Caribbean Cruises, decided by the Third District Court of Appeals September 28, 2011, the Third District Court of Appeals reiterated the rule regarding unseaworthiness: A vessel's condition of unseaworthiness may arise from any number of circumstances: Her gear might be defective, her appurtenances in disrepair, her crew unfit. The number of men assigned to perform a shipboard task might be insufficient. The method of loading her cargo, or the manner of its stowage, might be improper. For any of these reasons, or others, a vessel might not be reasonably fit for her intended service.

Wrongful death: title holder held not responsible

In a case involving a wrongful death, the Fifth District held that even though the Defendant's name was on the title to the motor vehicle, he was not responsible because he did not possess any beneficial ownership in the vehicle that was driven by another person at the time of the accident. The entire case turned on who had beneficial ownership of the vehicle. Of course, the safest thing to always do is to have your name removed from the title.