Default Judgments and Damages

Default Judgments and Damages

Q. Judge Smith, what is a default judgment? Does a default judgment end the case? Thank you, Dee. A. Due process of law requires notice and an opportunity to be heard.Plaintiffs begin lawsuits by filing complaints against defendants. The purpose of a complaint is to tell a defendant what he did, how it damaged the […]

Lack of Transparency Drives Up Insurance Premiums

Everyone knows Florida has an insurance problem, but few realize that there is a lack of transparency in damages in our state courtrooms that is a major contributor to inflated premium costs. Property insurers foot the lawsuit bill for most cases regarding damages, and so objectivity matters when plaintiffs file claims. If a plaintiff sues […]

Attorney Fees Drive Up Property Insurance Costs for Homeowners

Dear Editor, It was no surprise to see that the rising cost of property insurance was one of the key topics of the gubernatorial debate last week between Governor Ron DeSantis and Charlie Crist. Florida’s insurance marketplace was already suffering due to a variety of reasons, and more and more consumers were being hit with […]

An Accidental Lawyer | Judge Layne Smith

An Accidental Lawyer | Judge Layne Smith

Q. Judge Smith, did you always aspire to be a lawyer? Sally A. No, I did not. Allow me to explain how it happened. My late father, Frank D. Smith, was a hard worker and a problem solver. When he graduated from high school, he aspired to go to college. However, his parents couldn’t afford […]

Grumpy Old Men | Judge Layne Smith

Grumpy Old Men | Judge Layne Smith

Q. Judge Smith, doing your job takes a lot of patience. What is your key to being polite and having an even keel? On or off the bench, is there anything that annoys you? Tanner A. Being patient is part of a judge’s job description. It helps to like people and to empathize with their […]

Malpractice is bad, More Lawsuits is Worse

In recent years, Florida has become a hotbed for medical malpractice lawsuits. Many out-of-state attorneys have set up shop in the state, lured by the promise of rich rewards. This trend is attributable to a variety of factors, including the state’s large elderly population and its popularity as a tourist destination. As a result, doctors […]

Violating Local Ordinances Has Consequences | Judge Layne Smith

Violating Local Ordinances Has Consequences | Judge Layne Smith

Q. Judge Smith, how can local government enact ordinances that expose people to criminal prosecution? Just call me a non-conformist. Dan A. The state or the federal government preempts some areas of law. Otherwise, county and city governments can enact local ordinances. The idea is that our local officials are the closest to local issues. […]

Open-Handed Greetings | Judge Lane Smith

Open-Handed Greetings | Judge Lane Smith

I talk to students about what judges do and the rule of law. Sometimes, we talk about American history and their questions can range from whimsical to probing.  Q. Judge Smith, why do the people in England drive on the other side of the road. Clay (a fourth-grade student). A. During the Middle Ages, most […]

Small Businesses Vulnerable to Lawsuit Abuse

Dear Editor, Florida’s courts are being commandeered by con artists and fraudsters, earning massive paydays at the expense of everyday small business owners. And things will keep getting worse on Mainstreet and in our communities if things don’t change soon. There are many forms of lawsuit abuse in the Sunshine State, but one in particular […]

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