Legal Updates

INSURANCE ASSIGNMENT OF BENEFITS  The First District Court of Appeals has declined to issue a decision over a case involving insurance benefits.  Rather, they have called on the Legislature to fix the problem.  The issue involves the practice of homeowners signing over their policy benefits to contractors.  Typically this is done in cases of emergency, such as water damage.  Consumers and the insurance industry regularly complain such practice invites fraud and over-charging for services.  The Court suggested legislative review of the statute.

FAIR DISTRICTS SUITS  The fight over the implementation and the constitutionality of the Fair Districts amendment continues in the courts.  Here is a rundown of recent events.  The Chief Judge in the usually conservative Northern District of Florida dismissed a suit filed by two Republican Party officials questioning the constitutionality of the amendment based upon their individual rights to free speech.  The judge ruled the amendment was directed only to the Legislature and there exists no barrier to citizen free speech.  In another case, plaintiffs sued Secretary of State Ken Detzner to stop him from implementing the proposed new Congressional districts.  The Secretary is seeking dismissal based upon the fact that his office played no part in the drawing of the districts and therefore has no authority.  In another development, Congressman Daniel Webster filed a motion with the Court asking that he be allowed to help draw the new district lines.  The map the court is currently reviewing changes his district substantially and is more Democratic leaning, leaving him vulnerable during a re-election campaign. The Court rejected his request.

FDOT TOLL CONTRACT  We previously reported on a legal fight between Xerox and Accenture over a potential $600 million contract to collect tolls over four transportation systems.  An administrative law judge ruled that FDOT did not violate their procurement policies when they awarded the contract to Xerox.

SAME SEX PARENTAL RIGHTS  Another court case is evolving from the same sex marriage ruling.  The case involves a legally married lesbian couple who are currently divorcing.  During their marriage, three children were born to one of the couple.  Current Florida law prohibits birth certificates from listing same sex parents.  The non-birthing parent is suing, claiming the law is unconstitutional by denying her spousal support and parental rights for their children.  Because the children were born prior to the 2010 federal court ruling deeming gay adoption constitutional, the pair is in legal limbo.  The suit seeks to clarify the law.

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