Finally! Discovery Harassment of Top-Level Corporate Officers is Curtailed

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In a recent decision, the Florida Supreme Court amended Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.280, adding a section to codify the “Apex Doctrine” and extend its protections to private corporate officers, whereas in the past it only protected high-level government officials. On its own sua sponte motion, the Florida Supreme Court found that it was best to apply the Apex Doctrine to both private and government officers to provide efficiency in the discovery process, as well as to prevent “undue harassment and oppression of high-level (company or government) officials.” More »

Limitations for Policyholders Seeking Coverage in Employment-Related BIPA Cases

Numerous lawsuits have arisen in Illinois recently under Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), with plaintiffs claiming that defendant-companies have wrongfully captured and shared biometric identifiers and information in violation of the statute. BIPA seeks to safeguard individuals’ biometric identifiers and information by requiring that companies comply with privacy guidelines when obtaining private personal data such as an individual’s face geometry, fingerprints or other unique biometric identifier. For example, it has become common practice for companies to enroll employees and customers into database systems that utilize a fingerprint scan for various purposes ranging from identification and account management to employee time keeping. However, when a company fails to adhere to BIPA regulations, questions arise as to the extent of their liability and whether insurance coverage extends to claims sounding in BIPA violations. More »

Vaccine Mandates in the Workplace Are Spreading

A recent decision out of the Southern District of Texas in Bridges v. Houston Methodist Hospital has provided employers some assurances that they can require employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a condition of employment.[1] The decision also serves as a warning to employees who are considering suing their private employer over a policy requiring inoculation.

In Bridges, 117 employees of Houston’s Methodist Hospital System filed suit after Defendants issued a policy in April requiring employees to be vaccinated by June or risk termination. Originally filed in Texas state court in May, Defendants removed the case to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in June. Shortly thereafter, Judge Lynn Hughes dismissed the suit in its entirety. [2] More »

The Death of Impartiality - "Dr. Death," Reptilian Tactics, and Fighting Juror Bias

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This summer saw the release of Dr. Death, a crime miniseries telling the “true story” dramatization of neurosurgeon Dr. Christopher Duntsch – who is currently serving a life sentence in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison system for paralyzing one of his patients during a spinal surgery. In three years of practice as a neurosurgeon, Duntsch gained a reputation for arrogance and gross negligence in the operating room, eventually leading to the suspension of his medical license only after he had caused serious and permanent harm to dozens of patients. Overarching the series is the core question of how a doctor like Duntsch could continue to practice for so long? The writers point the finger at a few different targets, from Texas tort reform legislation that purportedly left Duntsch’s patients powerless to for-profit medical institutions that allegedly tried to quiet word of his misconduct for their own gain. Ultimately, the series pushes the theme that our medical system is immoral and broken – even ending with the ominous warning “this will happen again” – but for lawyers defending medical professionals the series offers a different warning – one of reptilian tactics and unfair bias against medical professionals. More »

Considerations That Employers Should be Mindful of as Employees Return to the Office

In light of employees returning to the office, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) provided comprehensive guidance through its Frequently Answered Questions (“FAQs”). These FAQs provide valuable insight on how employers should navigate these uncharted territories, while also leaving employers with questions. This article highlights the major takeaways from the EEOC guidance, yet the overarching theme that employers should consider when implementing a policy for returning to work is that there likely will not be any hard and fast rules that will apply to all employees—this will likely need to be an interactive process in which fact specific inquiries may be necessary to accommodate employees’ circumstances. More »

A Win for Policyholders Seeking Coverage in a BIPA Class Action Suit

As practitioners across the state are well aware, Illinois has become a hotbed for litigation concerning the protection of biometric information, as companies of all shapes and sizes have found themselves defendants in lawsuits seeking to recover for alleged violations of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”). Naturally, the availability of insurance coverage in these cases has become an equally compelling legal issue. The recent $36 million settlement of the class action BIPA lawsuit, Rosenbach v. Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, highlights the importance of insurance coverage in this area.  More »

Reasonable Disagreement or Fraud? Competing Estimates of Property Damage in First Party Claims

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Absent an outright disclaimer of coverage, a disagreement regarding the scope and amount of covered damages represents the very heart of virtually every disputed first-party property claim. While certainly not all claims presented by policyholders (or their public adjusters) are unreasonable, any lawyer who has defended first-party lawsuits can offer examples of claims with extremely minor damage that quickly turn into five and six figure demands based on estimates that call for repairs or replacement to virtually every element of a home. Take, for example, a minor water leak underneath a single kitchen cabinet that is quickly discovered by the homeowner and repaired, but leaves some minor water staining and warping to that single cabinet. Often, by the time a demand is presented to the carrier, that minor water damage claim has turned into a demand for a complete kitchen overhaul to include replacement of all kitchen cabinets, countertops, flooring, painting, etc. More »

Malpractice Mayhem: An Insurer's Standing to Sue Counsel Retained to Defend Its Insured

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Recently, the Florida Supreme Court opined on the ability of an Insurer to bring suit against counsel it hired to defend its Insured and affirmed that an Insurer has not only the right, but the standing to do so, in certain circumstances.

In the matter of Arch Insurance Company v. Kubicki Draper, LLP, SC19-673, the Florida Supreme Court reviewed and heard argument as to why Arch should or should not be allowed to sue Kubicki Draper for malpractice after Kubicki Draper represented and settled a suit for one of Arch’s insureds. In Arch, the trial court and Fourth District Court of Appeal both found that Arch did not have standing to sue Kubicki Draper as it was not in privity of contract with the firm; however, the Fourth District Court of Appeal certified the following question of great public importance: Whether an Insurer has Standing to Maintain a Malpractice Action Against Counsel Hired to Represent the Insured Where the Insurer has a Duty to Defend. More »

Prejudgment Interest Now a Reality in Illinois

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The Governor of Illinois signed into law Public Act 102-0006 on May 28, 2021. The effective date of the act is July 1, 2021. The act applies to all wrongful death and personal injury action arising out of negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, intentional conduct, or strict liability. More »

Florida NIL Legislation: What to Expect in the Coming Weeks

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With name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation set to take effect in Florida in less than a couple of months, intercollegiate athletes will soon be able to receive compensation for the use of their NIL’s. But where will that compensation come from? Who are the likely sponsors? Typically, when one thinks of athlete endorsements, one imagines a professional athlete on television promoting products from cars to shoes to insurance and countless other products. While some very well-known intercollegiate athletes might be able to land such high-profile sponsorships, the more likely source will be smaller scale with the focus on social media advertising. More »

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