Florida Litigation To Watch In 2021
Litigation Partner Tiffany Roddenberry was quoted in a Law360 article discussing Wilsonart v. Lopez, a key case that Florida litigators are keeping their eye on heading into 2021. In the case, over a fatal truck crash, both the trial and appeals courts agreed that dashcam video presented by trucking company Wilsonart LLC is conclusive and should be enough to beat back negligent driving claims by the family of the man who died. However, the man's family presented a deposition of an eyewitness and an affidavit from an expert that refuted the video evidence, which was enough to defeat summary judgment under Florida's current standard. But, the Fifth District Court of Appeal asked if there should be an exception for conclusive video evidence. The Supreme Court rejected a video evidence carveout and instead said adopting the federal standard is "in the best interest of our state" and is "more rational, more fair and more consistent with the structure and purpose of our rules of civil procedure."
"It seemed like there was a bit of concern about how procedurally to do what a lot of people are advocating for, which is to adopt the federal standard," said Ms. Roddenberry. In its ruling, the court said the standard should be changed with a formal rule amendment and issued a parallel decision amending Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.510 to adopt the federal summary judgment standard. "Technically under the Florida constitution, rulemaking is the province of the Supreme Court," Ms. Roddenberry said. "We have this rulemaking process under the Florida Bar, but ultimately the court gets to do what it wants."