All entries for January 2017

No Injunction Against Farmland Skydiving

A recent decision by the First District Court of Appeals provides at least a short-term win for lovers of fun and skydiving.  In Nipper v. Walton Cnty., the owners of a large agricultural tract defeated the County's attempt to secure an injunction against them operating a skydiving business on the property.  42 Fla. L. Weekly D171 (Fla. 1st DCA January 17, 2017).

The Court determined that the Nippers, who won a code enforcement hearing against the County previously, could not be enjoined from enjoying their skydiving since the County could not prove a clear legal right to the injunction.  The Court stated that the enforcement hearing provided that the County's position as given by the planning director was in conflict with the decision of enforcement and that enforcement's determination had been that the use of the property for jumping out of airplanes was not against code. 

If you have questions about the manner you want to use your property or questions about your rights as a property owner, our stellar land use team is available to help today.  


Trump Rollback of ACA ("Obamacare") Regulations Starts the Process of Full Reversal

Upon taking office, one of the very first official acts by newly minted President Trump was to sign an executive order curtailing enforcement of the punitive elements of the Affordable Care Act.  The full text of the EO (which can be found here) calls for enforcement agencies to "exercise all authority and discretion available to them" in order to minimize burdens of the Act pending repeal, to preserve choices in the marketplace for consumers, and to encourage open competition by insurers.  

This executive order obviously heralds the most serious efforts to date to repeal the controversial health care bill that was signed into law (potentially without even being read by many lawmakers).  This measure is being billed as an effort to reduce the impact of the more onerous provisions of the Act to employers and businesses, while trying to preserve some of the benefits achieved for consumers.  The efficacy of the change from the ACA to some form of health care bill that has yet to take shape will be a point of interest (and, likely contention) among pundits in the coming years. 

For employers, the question becomes "how does this effect my business?"  As often is the case, the effects of this enforcement 'cool down' might not be clear for some time, but it is important to speak to an attorney to find out whether your business is likely to see impacts from the changing law and what those impacts might be.  Talk to one of the employement attorneys at Icard Merrill to find out more about your business and how the ACA repeal may affect it. 


Coblenz Agreement Shields Decedent Insured's Estate

A recent decision in the case In re Estate of Arroyo, reveals an interesting mechanism for plaintiffs to seek their remedy from an insurance company that declines to defend its insured while sparing the assets of the insured itself.  42 Fla. L. Weekly D192 (Fla. 3d DCA January 18, 2017). 

In the case, the estate of a person involved in a car accident was sued by the family of the other driver, asserting negligence claims.  The claims were presented to the insurance company which promptly refused to defend the claim.  The estate then reached a deal with the plaintiffs which involved the estate agreeing to entry of a consent judgment in exchange for the plaintiffs' agreement not to enforce the judgment agains the estate.  The estate also assigned its rights against the insurance company to the plaintiff.  A bad faith claim was brought by the plaintiffs in the shoes of the insured and the insurance company attempted to defend itself with defenses of the insured against the claims.  

The court determined that the insurance company had waived its right to defend against a liability claim by refusing to defend in the first action.  Therefore, the appellate court found those defenses had been waived as a matter of law, which opened the way for the plaintiff to take the fight against the insurance company.  

The mechanism described above is called a Coblentz agreement since it originates from Coblentz v. Am. Surety Co. of New York, 416 F.2d 1059 (5th Cir. 1969).

These types of complex multi-party litigations are extremely difficult to navigate without the help of an experienced and able attorney.  Rhe litigation department of Icard Merrill is available to help you tackle these challenges.  If you have questions about your rights or a case, contact our attorneys for help today. 


Second, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits Again Asked to Reverse Precedent on Gay Rights Under Title VII

As outlined here (and as covered by our own Jessica Farrelly here), three major Federal circuit courts are scheduled to decide whether Title VII should include in its definition of gender and/or sex discrimination the issue of sexual orientation/sexual preference discrimination.  This is a potential watershed moment in national discrimination jurisprudence, as both the EEOC and lawmakers have an eye on increasing efforts to see LGBT and gay rights included in the long-held echelons of protected class under Title VII. 

It is not unusual to see courts do a bit of a jive when it comes to balancing precedent and the tides of social evolution.  What appears to be likely to be an escape hatch of sorts for courts considering the issue will be interpretation of other acts, notably the Sherman Act, which is much more liberally construed in today's jurisprudence compared to the period when it was enacted (in the late 1800s).  

Employers, legal practitioners, and the LGBT community will be watching with great interest as these decisions are levyed in the coming months.  In the meanwhile, employers may have questions about how these changes might impact their business.  An employer should consult with an attorney if they have questions about how the law will affect their business and the experienced employment attorneys at Icard Merrill can help your business try to avoid finding itself soon under these changing tides. 


First Annual Hot Topics in Employment Law Seminar

First Annual Hot Topics in Employment Law

Over the past year, enforcement activity across all employment law areas has increased. The EEOC continues to spearhead efforts to broaden the federal antidiscrimination and retaliation laws, and its task force on harassment in the workplace issued guidance on "rebooting" harassment prevention. The DOL issued new overtime exemption regulations and continues to pursue enforcement of wage-and-hour laws and to prioritize the elimination of independent contractor misclassifications. The NLRB has continued to scrutinize company handbook policies. The Defend Trade Secrets Act was enacted, severance agreements came under fire by the SEC, workplace violence continues to escalate, and medical marijuana was approved by voter initiative in Florida. Court decisions also continue to impact employers in a variety of ways. Changes in the employment law arena are occurring at a rapid pace!

To help employers stay ahead of the curve in 2017, Attorney Jessica M. Farrelly will present an overview of the most recent and significant enforcement activity, court decisions and legislative changes in federal and Florida employment law during the past year.

Who should attend?

  • Executives
  • Managers
  • In-House Counsel
  • Human Resources Professionals

Details Regarding This COMPLIMENTARY Seminar:

DATE: January 27, 2017
TIME: 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
LOCATION: ICARD, MERRILL, CULLIS, TIMM, FUREN & GINSBURG, P.A.
2033 Main Street, Suite 600
Sarasota, FL 34237

To ensure enough space is available, please pre-register on or before January 20, 2017 by contacting Toni Hashem at thashem@icardmerrill.com or (941) 366-8100. 

©2016 Jessica M. Farrelly, Esq. • Icard Merrill. This may be considered advertising under the rules of the Florida Bar. This information is general in nature and is not offered, and should not be construed, as legal advice with respect to any specific matter.