Legal Issues

GAY MARRIAGE NEWS  The 11th U.S. District Court of Appeals still retains Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s appeal  regarding a U.S. District Judge’s ruling that Florida’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.  The Court of Appeals has signaled no further action will be taken until the U.S. Supreme Court rules later this year.

In 2014, a same sex couple who were both long-time State of Florida employees and had previously been married in Canada, sued the Department of Management Services when the Department refused to allow spousal benefits for the two men.  In light of the recent court rulings, the Department announced it was reviewing the situation and is seeking a solution to the problem.

EXECUTION STAY  The Florida Supreme Court issued a stay on February 17th for a death row prisoner scheduled to die by lethal injection on February 26th.  The Court made this decision as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of an Oklahoma case where three prisoners were scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection.  With the U.S. Supreme Court still considering this case, the stay is the first of its kind in the country.

BAILEY GATE INVESTIGATION  Ten thousand petitions were delivered last week to the U.S. Attorney and the State Attorney in Tallahassee seeking an independent investigation into the forced resignation of former Department of Law Enforcement Director Gerald Bailey. The State Attorney has repeatedly stated he will not open an investigation based solely upon news reports of the incident. In response, the First Amendment Foundation requested the Governor and Cabinet appoint a special prosecutor to look into the allegations.

FIREARMS The 4th District Court of Appeal has issued a ruling upholding Florida’s law preventing people from openly carrying firearms.  The case involved a citizen who was arrested and convicted for carrying a holstered gun in public.  The Court asserted that existing rules governing concealed firearms were not onerous and would satisfy the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION A Palm Beach Gardens woman has sued HCA Hospitals seeking class action status regarding hospital overcharges for PIP insurance related injuries.  The woman alleges the hospital exorbitantly overcharged for scans administered after an automobile accident, effectively using up her limit before any remedial treatment.  The suit states the hospital charged nearly $18,000 for scans which are reimbursed by Medicare at less than $500.  The hospital denies any wrongdoing and is seeking a dismissal.

 DARDEN RESTAURANTS DISCRIMINATION The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a suit against Darden Restaurants, whose headquarters are in Orlando, as a result of an investigation into nationwide hiring practices at the company’s Seasons 52 restaurants.  Potential employees over the age of 40 claim they were discriminated against because the chain wanted to present a “youthful image”.  The plaintiffs are seeking a revision of the company’s hiring practices and payment of lost wages to those denied positions because of their age.

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