Consumer safety law and news

Wednesday, November 26, 2008



Extending the medical malpractice statute of limitations twice!: The two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice can be extended, and extended twice. The two extensions do not run simultaneously. One extension is tacked on to the other. This was clarified by Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeals in Porumbescu v. Thompson, M.D., August 20, 2008.

Getting the other side to pay your fees: If you get sued or someone defends against your suit on totally frivolous grounds, the opposing party AND their attorney may have to pay your legal fees. But for the court to award fees from the opposing party’s lawyer, and not just the opposing party, the trial court must make an “express finding” that the attorney was not acting in good faith based on representations of his client. Perlman v. Ameriquest Mortgage Company, Florida 4th District Court of Appeals, August 27, 2008.

An insurance defense lawyer better be careful how he identifies himself to a jury. When defense counsel told the panel he was a “consumer justice attorney” representing the insured defendant, and not “not some fancy company”, the plaintiff got a mistrial. The existence of insurance may not be revealed to a jury, and the defense attorney’s remarks falsely suggested the damage award would be paid solely by the individual defendant, an inappropriate appeal to jury sympathy based on a defendant’s wealth or lack thereof. Hollenbeck v. Hooks, Florida 1st District Court of Appeals, August 21, 2008.


A first-ever jury verdict in Florida against landlord for off-premises dog attack! Carlina Ramirez, then 9, was attacked by two pitbulls in the public park next door to her apartment building where another tenant was keeping the dogs in violation of a lease rule that the landlord failed to enforce. In a legal first, the appellate court held that under these circumstances, where the landlord had advertised the park as an amenity, he could be liable even though he did not own the dog, or the land where the incident occurred. A Broward County jury returned a $424,000.00 damage verdict in favor of Carlina and her mother. Carlina has fortunately made a very good recovery. Credit goes to our great appellate attorney, Robert Glazier, and able co-counsel, Frank Wolland, who got this case off to its start.


For Indian Summer reading, try Cooking Confidential by the Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain, a Julia Child-meets-Hunter S. Thompson memoir about what really happens inside the kitchens of the “best” restaurants.

Speaking of “best restaurants,” try Michie’s on Biscayne Boulevard, where WPBT/Channel 2's Michelle Bernstein, a graduate of North Miami High, serves up her incredible cuisine.

Check out Bonnie Clearwater’s fall show, Dark Continents, at MOCA, on through November 9. Contemporary artists re-interpret the fascination of artists from a century ago with tropical locales.


As a member of the advisory committee of the North Miami Community Redevelopment Agency, I have had the opportunity to watch the agency’s progress up close. Possessed with a great mission, the North Miami CRA unfortunately has not yet made the right moves to help spur North Miami’s redevelopment. Instead, it is financing “Pioneer Gardens”, a proposed “affordable housing” development, where county environmental officials have discovered that asbestos buried in the ground has caused an air pollution risk, blowing up the price tag of a project that has never been vetted for financial feasibility.

With North Miami’s awesome location and great potential, it continues to be my hope a more enlightened approach will prevail in the future, and a historic opportunity for good redevelopment won’t be missed. Watch this space!


Kudos to BNY Mellon Banks’ Jeff Levinson for another great wine tasting event and auction to kick off the 11th Annual Junior Achievement Tennis Tourament at Key Biscayne’s Crandon Park Tennis Center. Junior Achievement’s area school coordinator and vice president, North Miami Councilman Scott Galvin, also helped make this a very special event.

Take a bow Maxine Calloway and Dan Lima of North Miami’s Community Development Department for adopting a beautification program featuring awards for beautifying improvements to area homes and businesses. Memo to Maxine: Be sure to include the realtors and home owners’ associations in this!

Happy birthday to my hero, Palm Beach County’s Mike Ingram, who came back from a paralyzing spinal chord injury to get behind the wheel of a race car again. You the man, Mike! Mozel tov to Marsha and Frank Wolland on the marriage of Marsha’s son Jake Glickfield to Sarah Harris in Brooklyn. The couple will live in Israel while Jake finishes training to become a rabbi.
Congratulations to Debbie Kleinberg, executive director of the North Miami Foundation, one of the area’s most outstanding service organizations. At a time of budget cuts, a skidding economy and with charitable dollars drying up, Deborah continues to convince the funding authorities of the importance of the Foundation’s mission–to help still-independent but frail elderly living alone to maintain some quality of life including three square meals a day. Every day, delivered to the door, and nutritiously decent. (I know. Debbie served a typical breakfast at a recent board meeting.) If you live anywhere in the greater North Miami area, the Foundation feeds an elderly neighbor of yours. If you can help, or if you need help, call the North Miami Foundation at 305-893-1450.


With election day coming, remember the old Chicago saying. “Vote early and vote often!”

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