Wednesday, October 21, 2009

3d DCA Watch -- Judge Salter Takes His Foot Off The Brakes Edition



Hi kids, well it was a busy day in the temporary bunker, what with the now nearly frenetic coffee-swilling, the elaborate robing ceremonies that occur more and more frequently throughout the day, and of course FIU's refusal to comp the lawyers for free parking, so let's get right to it:

Ramos v. FPL:

The PSC and FPL have been in the news a lot lately, so it's no surprise to see the 3d DCA try to grab some of the limelight.

Finally -- thanks to Judge Salter -- we are beginning to get a quasi-clear picture of when you can sue a regulated utility in state court.

Short answer -- when you have consequential damages:
In Albert Litter Studios, we held that “[i]n order to resolve the jurisdictional issue, we must first look to the nature of the relief sought by the plaintiff because it is the nature of the relief sought, not the language of the complaint, that ultimately determines which tribunal has jurisdiction over the claim.” Id. 896 So. 2d at 893. The nature of the relief sought by Ramos is those consequential damages that allegedly flowed from a grossly negligent claim of meter tampering and electrical cutoff, not merely a dispute about the charges for electricity. Although FPL maintains that the “customer complaints” sections of the Florida Administrative Code and the FPL Tariff provided Ramos with “available and adequate remedies,” we disagree.
That won't stop FPL from continuing to ring that "exclusive jurisdiction" bell every chance it gets, but it at least provides some guidance to trial judges and practitioners.

Ford v. Hall-Edwards:

It was just a normal day in state court, the day Judge David Miller declared the Ford Explorer (three model types and eleven model years) a "Public Hazard Pursuant to §69.081."

I've never heard of anything like that before, so let's see what the motion requested:
The motion asked the trial court to make a finding that “the Ford Explorer” is a “public hazard” under section 69.081, Florida Statutes (2008),2 and to “enter no order concealing the ‘public hazard’ from the public and prevent FordMotor Company from concealing any information related to the Ford Explorer, including but not limited to trade secrets and other protected, confidential, and/or privileged documents.” (Footnote added).
I'm still confused. Maybe the evidentiary hearing can clarify what this is about:
At the hearing, the trial court declined to hear Ford’s witnesses. A review of the transcript of the hearing discloses that it was not an evidentiary hearing in any traditional sense of that term, but rather a lengthy colloquy between the respondent’s counsel and the trial court, a limited amount of questioning directed by the court to Ford’s counsel, and then a review by the court of documents that were not authenticated or introduced into evidence.
Seems ok to me!

Still, that detail-oriented Judge Salter had a problem with this -- what a stick-in-the-mud. He even drops a footnote discussing "slushy" evidence, something I only think about if at all after I'm two or three Gibsons into an evening (thank you, very astute reader!).

Whitney v. A Aventura:

Does anyone remember 1993?

If I recall correctly, Bill Clinton was President, everybody was making a lot of money, and Sleepless in Seattle was inexplicably a very popular movie.

So things were not all good.

But apparently, also in 1993, the appellant had a final default judgment entered against him. In 2007, he filed a motion to have the judgment set aside, claiming he did not receive various pleadings and orders.

Judge Genden said "no deal, sucka!" (I'm paraphrasing), and a very busy Judge Salter agreed, dispensing this wisdom to pro se litigants:
The cautionary message to parties who have been sued and then elect to proceed without legal representation is this: keep a watchful eye on the case, whether by inspecting the court file or checking the on-line docket. The fact that a self-represented person does not receive further mailings regarding the case does not itself protect her or him from an adverse judgment, because certificates of service by counsel are presumptively valid. Ignoring a lawsuit after service of the original complaint (and absent dismissal with prejudice of all claims) is the legal equivalent of ignoring the dashboard signal for “no brakes” in a rapidly-moving automobile.
Actually, this is sage advice and I agree with it completely, but I would just add that Chris Farley back in 1995 provided a pretty good visualization of what Judge Salter is talking about.

4 comments:

  1. Tommy: Let's think about this for a sec, Ted, why would somebody put a guarantee on a box? Hmmm, very interesting.
    Ted Nelson, Customer: Go on, I'm listening.
    Tommy: Here's the way I see it, Ted. Guy puts a fancy guarantee on a box 'cause he wants you to fell all warm and toasty inside.
    Ted Nelson, Customer: Yeah, makes a man feel good.
    Tommy: 'Course it does. Why shouldn't it? Ya figure you put that little box under your pillow at night, the Guarantee Fairy might come by and leave a quarter, am I right, Ted?
    [chuckles until he sees that Ted is not laughing too]
    Ted Nelson, Customer: [impatiently] What's your point?
    Tommy: The point is, how do you know the fairy isn't a crazy glue sniffer? "Building model airplanes" says the little fairy; well, we're not buying it. He sneaks into your house once, that's all it takes. The next thing you know, there's money missing off the dresser, and your daughter's knocked up. I seen it a hundred times.
    Ted Nelson, Customer: But why do they put a guarantee on the box?
    Tommy: Because they know all they sold ya was a guaranteed piece of shit. That's all it is, isn't it? Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time. But for now, for your customer's sake, for your daughter's sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality product from me.
    Ted Nelson, Customer: [pause] Okay, I'll buy from you.
    Tommy: Well, that's...
    Tommy, Richard Hayden: ...What?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tommy: Did you hear I finally graduated?

    Richard Hayden: Yeah, and just a shade under a decade too, all right.

    Tommy: You know a lot of people go to college for seven years.
    Richard Hayden: I know, they're called doctors.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous 1 and 2: you guys missed the sweet spot with a softball thrown underhand with backward spin:

    Tommy: Richard? Is this your coat?

    Richard: Don't do it.

    Tommy: Fat guy in a little coat. Fat guy in a little coat.

    Richard: Don't

    Tommy: [singing] Fat guy in a little coat. / Fat guy in a little coat.

    Richard: Take it off, Dickhead, I'm serious!

    Tommy: Richard! What's happening?
    [coat rips]

    Tommy: Uh oh!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Daily Business Review stole your stuff again.

    ReplyDelete