Articles Tagged with Florida legal news

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Last month, the Florida Supreme Court looked back more than 10 years to strike down a key component of the 2003 medical malpractice law. It was a 5-2 ruling written by Justice R. Fred Lewis. While the case itself surrounds a major controversial issue in the legal community, the Justice’s critique of the legislative body that passed the law is also drawing attention.

Back in 2003, the law was passed as a culmination of a debate that lasted months. Then Governor Jeb Bush took the side of doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies who complained that medical malpractice costs in Florida were growing out of control, sending good doctors to other states or away from the type of high-risk work that led to the suits. The state government eventually settled on caps that would keep pain and suffering payments at $500,000 or $1 million, depending upon a variety of circumstances.

Three years later, a 20-year-old Florida woman named Michelle McCall bled to death after undergoing a caesarian section during childbirth. Her family sued the federal government (she was treated by U.S. Air Force medical staff) and was awarded $2 million in non-economic damages. However, the medical malpractice law lowered the award to $1 million. McCall’s family fought the ruling in appeals court.

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In 2012, President Obama signed the treaty allowing Israelis to obtain investor’s visas in the U.S.  However, the treaty was not formally agreed upon and signed by the Israeli government until now.  On March 30, 2014, the Israeli government in its weekly meeting approved the reciprocal investor’s visa treaty for American Investors.

E-2 Investor Visas allow people, from a select group of countries, to enter the United States and work on a “substantial” investment within the country. While the visas need to be renewed every five years, they can last for a potentially unlimited period of time. However, they are not meant to serve as a path to immigration, and showing intent to immigrate could hurt the chance for an extension. The visas are useful for entrepreneurs who have a great deal of money, no other visa options available, and no intent to become a citizen of the United States

According to a government official responsible for pushing this issue forward, “Following government approval, we’ll need to amend prevailing regulations and draft procedures, but I hope that these steps will be completed as soon as possible.”  This means that once the procedural terms are defined by Israel for Americans investing there, the treaty will take full force and effect and Israelis will be entitled to obtain investor’s visas in the U.S.

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In 2008, the subprime mortgage crisis brought the United States economy to its knees, and six years later, we are still picking up the pieces. On March 11, an agreement between two key senators indicated that they were ready to deal with what many believe is one of the final large pieces of financial reform in the wake of the recession.

A plan was agreed upon by the two top ranking members of the Senate Banking Committee to finally do away with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two mortgage companies that were taken over by the Federal government back in 2008. Both companies have always been government sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, originally created to expand the secondary mortgage market. Fannie Mae was created as part of the New Deal, while Freddie Mac was introduced in 1970 to create competition in the market.

After being taken over in 2008, the Federal government spent $187.5 billion to keep them afloat through 2011, preventing a bankruptcy that would have had a disastrous impact. However, the market has rebounded since, and the government has actually turned that loss into a profit since. Even in the wake of the financial crisis, the two companies, along with the Federal Housing Administration, have continued to back a vast majority of new mortgages.

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A case involving Florida law firm Stok Folk & Kon and attorney Robert Stok is garnering a great deal of attention in Austrailia and around the world. Robert Stok is serving as attorney for the Mawardi family, former business partners of Geoffrey Edelsten, a medical entrepreneur who has grown into a controversial Australian celebrity.

First, a little background on the case.

Back in September, the Mawardi family, who were engaged in very contentious litigation with Edelstein, reached a settlement with Edelsten that the Mawardis intended to be a a resolution to a dispute involving the ownership of excessive business assets, including United States housing complexes, a hotel and casino in the Dominican Republic, and a Challenger 601 jet aircraft. The Mawardi family was to receive cash payments, mortgages on real property and an insurance claim worth approximately $4 million dollars for a total settlement value of approximately $11 million dollars.

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It might not be surprising that an ethical issue is being discussed and deliberated in the Florida law community. However, it might seem unusual to some that the issue surrounds LinkedIn, the popular social network for professionals, including in this case, lawyers and their firms. Even those who have never visited the website are undoubtedly familiar with the barrage of e-mails inviting them to do so.

This is serious business. It all starts with a new set of rules that was adopted by the Florida Supreme Court in May of 2013, which governed the use of internet marketing by Florida lawyers. The rules were intended to discourage deceptive, manipulative, misleading information, limiting online marketing content to “objectively verifiable” results, characterizations, and testimonials. While Florida lawyers have always worked with relatively strict advertising limitations, this was the first time the restrictions were extended to their websites.

In an attempt to comply with the new rules, law firm Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA asked the bar to advise them on which statements from their online presence met the “objectively verifiable” requirement. They were not satisfied with the response they received.