[SUPREME COURT OF FLORIDA]

Oral Argument Press Summaries
February 1-5, 1999

The following summaries are drawn from briefs and lower court judgments. They are meant to provide a general idea of facts and issues presented in cases, and should not be considered official court documents. Facts and issues presented in these summaries should be checked for accuracy against records and briefs, available from the Court, which provide more specific information.

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Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Monday, February 1, 1999

Arrive early. Times & order of appearance are tentative and subject to change with no notice. Cases may be postponed due to exigent circumstances.

Case Time Facts & Issues Place of Origin
J. Rex Farrior, Jr. v. Mary Lee Farrior

No. 93,329

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9:00 Mary Lee Farrior inherited 10,298 shares of Coca-Cola stock left by her grandfather, Charles Talbot Nunnally, valued at $3.1 million when she received it in 1968 along with other assets. She had married Rex Farrior ten years earlier. During their marriage, Mr. Farrior both practiced law and managed the fortune, which paid for a lavish lifestyle. By the time they divorced in 1996, the total estate was worth $47.7 million. The trial court divided it equally, but the Second District Court reversed on grounds the stock had always been titled in Mrs. Farrior's name and rightfully belongs to her. Hillsborough County
Talat Enterprises, Inc. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co.

No. 93,287

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Approx. 9:40 This dispute arose from a fire at Billy the Kid's Buffet on April 15, 1994-a restaurant owned by Talat Enterprises and insured by Aetna. Talat and Aetna disagreed over the cost of the damages, and in September 1994 Talat filed for bankruptcy and sued Aetna for its losses. The bankruptcy judge ordered an appraisal of damages, which set the losses at $331,930.47. Aetna paid this amount. Talat then sued Aetna for damages over and above its insured losses, allegedly caused by Aetna's bad-faith refusal to pay covered losses until ordered to do so. The federal trial judge dismissed the claim and Talat appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which certified a question to the Florida Supreme Court. Osceola County
Robert A. Thomas v. State of Florida

No. 93,070

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Approx. 10:30 Thomas drove into a driveway where police were making arrests for narcotics violations. After Thomas left the car, officers asked him for ID, made a check, and determined there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest. They arrested him and, searching the car, found contraband. The trial court suppressed the evidence because Thomas' arrest came after he had left the vehicle. On appeal, the Second District reversed. Polk County
E.C. v. Lorne Katz, M.D.

No. 92,882

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Approx. 11:10 E.C. divorced her husband, allegedly after learning he had sexually abused their 3-year-old daughter since her birth. The issue was raised in the divorce, and the trial judge determined there had been no sexual abuse. E.C. then sued her daughter's physicians for failing to diagnose sexual abuse. The trial judge dismissed the claim on grounds that the divorce court already had decided the question against E.C. On appeal, the Fourth District Court agreed. Broward County

 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Tuesday, February 2, 1999

Arrive early. Times & order of appearance are tentative and subject to change with no notice. Cases may be postponed due to exigent circumstances.

Case Time Facts & Issues Place of Origin
The Florida Bar v. Lynn Mobley Summers

No. 90,566

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9:00 The Florida Bar accused Summers of neglecting a case in which she represented the United States of America, allegedly through failure to file necessary documents and obey court directives. The Bar contends she failed to participate in these disciplinary proceedings. Summers argues that she had reached an agreement with The Bar for a 90-day suspension but that she neglected to sign it. The referee heard the case without Summers' participation and recommended disbarment. Dade County
Karl Blish v. Atlanta Casualty Co.

No. 92,984

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Approx. 9:30 Blish's vehicle blew a tire, and while he was changing it two unknown men attacked, beat, and robbed him. He filed a claim with Atlanta Casualty under his auto insurance policy. Atlanta Casualty denied the claim on grounds that Blish was not occupying the vehicle when he was attacked. Blish sued, but the trial judge dismissed the case. The Fifth District affirmed. Brevard County
Juan Young v. Progressive Southeastern Insurance Co.

No. 93,544

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Approx. 10:20 On Sept. 29, 1995, Young was stopped at a red light when a Hillsborough Sheriff's patrol car rear-ended him. Young sued the Sheriff's office, which was self insured. Young also sued his insurer, Progressive Southeastern for uninsured motorist coverage, alleging that self-insured entities would fall within this coverage. The trial court dismissed this claim and, on appeal, the Second District affirmed. Hillsborough County
Beal Bank SSB v. Almand & Associates

No. 93,384

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Approx. 11:00 Under the common law of England in force in Florida, husband and wife can jointly own real estate as "tenants by the entirety." If one dies, the property goes to the surviving spouse to the exclusion of all others. Likewise, creditors cannot seize the property for anything but a joint debt. The present case involves several claims that bank accounts were held in this manner, thereby shielding them from creditors of only a single spouse. The Fifth District found that bank accounts can be held this way, but certified questions to the Court because of uncertainties in the law.  St. Johns County
Hiroaki Kobayashi v. Hollis M. Kobayashi

No. 92,811

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N/A REMOVED FROM CALENDAR Dade County

 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Wednesday, February 3, 1999

Arrive early. Times & order of appearance are tentative and subject to change with no notice. Cases may be postponed due to exigent circumstances.

Case Time Facts & Issues Place of Origin
State of Florida v. William E. Peterson

No. 92,692

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9:45 In June 1996, a law officer executed a warrant to search a house located on West DeSoto Street. In his affidavit supporting the warrant, the officer said that a confidential informant told him that Jorge McCormick lived at this address and had a substantial amount of marijuana. Peterson, not McCormick, actually lived there, and the officer found contraband in the search. Tried and convicted, Peterson appealed to the First District, which reversed on grounds the warrant was invalid. Escambia County
The Golf Channel v. Martin Jenkins

No. 93,426

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Approx. 10:25 Jenkins sued the Golf Channel under Florida's Whistle Blower Protection Act, alleging that he had been fired for disclosing improper conduct of other staff including sexual harassment. The trial court dismissed the suit on grounds Jenkins failed to file disclose the improper conduct in writing. On appeal, the Fifth District held there was no such requirement and reinstated the suit. Orange County
Rosario Donato v. AT&T Co.

No. 93,534

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Approx. 11:05 The Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 included a provision outlawing discrimination based on marital status. Also in 1992, Lynda Donato filed a sex discrimination and relation claim against her employer, AT&T. She was discharged by AT&T in 1994. Ms. Donato's husband, Rosario, also worked for AT&T. Just 2 days shy of his 30th anniversary with AT&T, the company discharged him. He filed a complaint alleging discrimination based on marital status-the fact he was married to someone suing AT&T. AT&T moved to dismiss on grounds the law only protects the fact of being single or married, not marriage to a specific person. The federal district court dismissed the suit, but on appeal the Eleventh Circuit Court certified the question to the Florida Supreme Court. Orange County

 
 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Thursday, February 4, 1999

Arrive early. Times & order of appearance are tentative and subject to change with no notice. Cases may be postponed due to exigent circumstances.

Case Time Facts & Issues Place of Origin
NO CASES SCHEDULED

 
 

Florida Supreme Court Oral Arguments
Friday, February 5, 1999

Arrive early. Times & order of appearance are tentative and subject to change with no notice. Cases may be postponed due to exigent circumstances.

Case Time Facts & Issues Place of Origin
In Re: Investiture of the Honorable R. Fred Lewis as the 78th Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida 3:00 p.m. Justice Lewis comes from Miami and is a native of West Virginia

BIOGRAPHY: R. FRED LEWIS

Justice R. Fred Lewis was appointed to the Supreme Court of Florida on December 7, 1998, by the late Gov. Lawton Chiles. He was born in Beckley, West Virginia, on December 14, 1947. He attended Woodrow Wilson High School, where he was actively involved in both athletic and academic pursuits, serving as president of the student body, receiving All State and All American recognition for athletic achievement, and receiving the Pete George Memorial Award as the outstanding scholar athlete.

Justice Lewis came to Florida in 1965 to attend Florida Southern College in Lakeland, where he excelled in athletics and academics. He was elected president of the sophomore, junior, and senior classes, and received the highest honor in 1969 by being selected as the Honor Walk Student, which is awarded annually for the outstanding senior student for scholastic and service achievements.

He graduated from college cum laude in 1969 and was awarded the NCAA Post-Graduate Grant as one of the top fifteen scholar athletes in the United States. He also received the Besser Lindsey Award as one of the top ten male university students in the United States, awarded by Sigma Alpha Epsilon.

Among his other achievements were the Williams Memorial Outstanding Athlete Award and inclusion in the Outstanding Athletes in America, National Student Register, Order of Omega, Omicron Delta Kappa, Psi Chi, Political Union, and the Greek Hall of Fame.

Upon graduating from college, Lewis moved to Miami to attend the University of Miami School of Law, where he graduated cum laude in 1972. He was a member of the University of Miami Law Review and was an officer in the Student Bar Association. Selected as a Justice of the Law School Honor Council, Lewis also served on the Appellate Moot Court Teams. He was selected for the Iron Arrow, the highest honor society, and was awarded membership in Bar and Gavel, and Order of Barristers.

Upon graduation from law school, Justice Lewis attended and graduated from the United States Army A.G. School after acting as Commander of the Corps of cadets for the University of Miami ROTC program. He graduated as its top student, receiving the Order of World Wars Superior Achievement Honor. Upon discharge from the military, Lewis entered private practice in Miami, specializing in civil trial and appellate litigation. He left practice upon his appointment to the Florida Supreme Court effective January 1, 1999.

Justice Lewis has been heavily involved in children's issues, serving as a member of the Board of Directors of Miami Children's Hospital and many of its committees and panels. While in private practice, he was heavily involved in providing counseling to families with children having impairments and provided pro bono legal services and counseling for cancer patients seeking proper treatment for multiple conditions.

He has served The Florida Bar in the capacity of Inventory Attorney, spending many hours auditing and reviewing files for the protection of clients. He has authored materials published by The Florida Bar's Continuing Legal Education Program and has participated in numerous cases selected for annotation in The American Law Report.

Justice Lewis and his wife Judith attended Florida Southern College together and were married in 1969. They have two children, Elle, an engineering student at Rice University in Houston, and Lindsay, a student in the public school system.
 


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