Friday, March 8, 2013

Liability for Employee Cellular Phone Use

Cell Phone Usage and Personal Injury Lawsuits
Cell phone usage has increasingly become the cause of accidents or a contributing factor, resulting in an increase in personal injury litigation involving cell phones. When a driver is using a cell phone at the time of an accident and the accident happens while the driver is on company business, the phone call is a business one, or the cell phone was provided by the company, that company will often be sued along with the driver/employee, under a theory of "vicarious liability" for the actions of its employee. Actual examples include:
  • A jury in Miami awarded a 78 year old woman and her husband $20.78 million against a driver and his employer for injuries suffered in an automobile crash. The driver initially admitted owning a cell phone but denied using it at the time of the accident. Cell phone bills indicated otherwise and the driver finally admitted making a sales call "before" calling 911 about the accident.
  • The state of Hawaii paid $1.5 million to the family of a New Jersey tourist struck by a car driven by a public school teacher, who was using her cell phone at the time.
  • Salomon Smith Barney paid $500,000 in settlement to the family of a motorcyclist killed in a collision with a broker, who was on his cell phone at the time.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Consumer Debt Rises for Young Adults

According to the Wall Street journal A typical young U.S. household—defined as one led by someone under age 35—had $15,000 in total debt in 2010, down from $18,000 in 2001 and the lowest since 1995, according to a recent Pew Research Center report and government data. Total debt includes mortgage loans, credit cards, auto lending, student loans and other consumer borrowing. In addition, fewer young adults carried credit card balances, and 22 percent did not have any debt at all in 2010—the most since government tracking began in 1983.

Bankruptcy Filings on the Rise

While bankruptcies were down from a year ago, February’s bankruptcy filings trended upward from January. Total bankruptcy filings for the month of February represented a 5 percent increase over the 78,565 total filings registered in January 2013. The total noncommercial filings for February also represented a 5 percent increase from the January 2013 noncommercial filing total of 74,831.

Southern District Forms

Please be advised that LF 8 "Order Converting Case Under Chapter 7 to Case Under Chapter 13" has been abrogated and split into two new Local Form orders, one for use when the motion is considered on negative notice and the other for use when the court conducts a hearing. A public notice has been posted on the court's web page:

The Florida Bar News reported on March 1st that HB 87 has passed the House Civil Justice Subcommittee on February 7. This bill has four important segments.

1.) It Shortens the statue of limitations for seeking a deficiency judgement from five year to one year from the date of the foreclosure sale.

2.) The defendants must show a valid reason for contesting the foreclosure or a Judge can expedite the foreclosure.

3.) Lenders must have their documents in order and complete when they file a foreclosure.

4.) Once a home is sold in foreclosure to a third party, future claims will be limited to monetary damages, should the foreclosure be found to be faulty.

The outcome of HB 87 is worth watching closely. Foreclosures are of prime importance not only to Circuit Civil & Real Estate Attorneys, but also Family Attorneys. Many divorces & family issues are delayed pending the outcome of the disposition of the marital home.