• Jeff Cosby has achieved re-certification as a specialist in civil trial law for the third time and has now been board certified for 15 years.
  • New case on “notice” in slip and fall suits provides help to governmental agencies
  • Chioma Deere co-presented a Continuing Judicial Education (CJE) session to judges on Judicial Management of Electronic Discovery in Palm Beach County.
  • Phil Wiseberg obtains a dismissal with prejudice on the eve of trial in property insurance case.
  • In Bryant v. Mezo, Carri Leininger obtained favorable opinion from the Fourth DCA recognizing the Plaintiff’s failure to disclose prior medical treatment was fraud and justified dismissal of the Plaintiff’s lawsuit.
  • Jim Williams intervened in complex construction/banking litigation on behalf of a local county obtaining a stay and potentially saving the county from a judgment that would have deprived the county of over a million dollars in collateral.
  • Chioma Deere co-presented a Continuing Judicial Education (CJE) session on Judicial Management of Electronic Discovery at the 19th Judicial Circuit to judges from St. Lucie, Martin, and Okeechobee counties.
  • Lee Baggett and Jeff Cosby spoke at the Orlando Claims Conference on Exposing Financial Bias of Treating Doctors.
  • Carri Leininger obtains summary judgment for CGL carrier in coverage dispute arising out of a multi-million dollar construction defect case.
  • Jessica Gregory obtains summary judgment for Property Owners Association in ADA/FHA case.
  • Phil Wiseberg and Jim Williams obtain a defense verdict in an automobile negligence suit
  • Phil Wiseberg achieved dismissal of a federal copyright infringement lawsuit on behalf of a local university…
  • Carri Leininger wins appellate victory in controversial juror texting case, Murphy v. Roth
  • Jim Williams succeeds with Palm Beach County jury returning defense verdict for half clients’ pre-trial offer

Inappropriate Statements at Trial found to be grounds for Mistrial

Las Olas Holding Co. d/b/a Riverside Hotel v. Demella, No. 4D16-231, 2017 WL 3085329, at *2 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. July 19, 2017)

During opening and closing arguments in a wrongful death action, Plaintiff’s counsel made various inappropriate statements.

The law is clear, “[g]enerally, a mistrial or new trial should be granted only when counsel’s arguments are so inflammatory and prejudicial that they deny the opposing party a fair trial.” Bakery Assocs, Ltd. v. Rigaud, 906 So.2d 366, 367 (Fla. 3d DCA 2005) (quoting Maksad v. Kaskel, 832 So.2d 788, 793 (Fla. 4th DCA 2002)

During opening argument, Plaintiff’s counsel stated, “the reason why we are in this courtroom today is that this corporation has refused to accept any responsibility for its role in this death.” The defense objected to this statement, which objection was sustained by the trial court. However, moments later, Plaintiff’s counsel made a similar statement, specifically, “[t]hey will look at everyone else’s conduct but their own. And these are defenses that are just attempts to avoid responsibility.” The Defense moved for a mistrial.

Finally, in closing argument, when seeking damages for wrongful death, Plaintiff’s counsel stated:
What do we put price tags on in our society today? What is it? I mean, if we – what do we pay LeBron James for the excitement that he brings? . . . We pay $30 million a year for the value that he brings in Miami. We pay a boxer $180 million for 12 rounds of boxing. We pay this expert $500 per hour. If her life is worth that type of enjoyment, those are just ways to come about: What is this really worth?
Defense counsel once again moved for a mistrial.

It has been held improper for an attorney to disparage an opposing party’s defense of a case or to suggest that a party should be punished for contesting a claim. Fasani v. Kowalski, 43 So.3d 805, 809 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010). Further, it is error to ask a jury to place a monetary value on the life of a decedent because the value of a human life is not an element of damages and is not the proper topic for closing argument. City of Orlando v. Pineiro, 66 So.3d 1064, 1070 (Fla. 5th DCA 2011).

In reviewing the trial court’s ruling, the Fourth DCA held that the trial court erred in denying Riverside’s motion for mistrial based on the above comments and cautioned against future use of such statements.

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