Firm News

Bressler, Amery & Ross won an appeal in Palm Beach County, FL, of the dismissal of a property damage case on behalf of an insurance client. 

The underlying case involved homeowners in Haverhill, FL, who sued the insurance company in a dispute over a water damage claim.

Bressler was litigating the case in Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit, Palm Beach County. 

On the eve of trial, the plaintiffs attempted to change their expert witness and engaged in other tactics which resulted in a strong ruling by the lower court, according to Bressler Principal Hope C. Zelinger of the firm’s Miami office, who led the defense team on the case. 

“Throughout the course of litigation, Plaintiffs, as well as Plaintiffs’ counsel, demonstrated a pattern of willful, intentional and contumacious disregard for this Court’s orders and the Rules of Civil Procedure, as it relates to discovery deadlines, appearance at depositions, and the like,” the judge ruled. 

The ruling came after several hearings and "last chance" orders by the Court and in response to a Bressler motion to strike the pleadings with prejudice. The Court conducted a Kozel hearing and dismissed the case with prejudice, Ms. Zelinger said. (A Kozel hearing requires a factual showing under a six-part test as to why a harsh sanction should be imposed in a case.)

“At this juncture, there is no sanction available to the Court that would provide adequate address for the substantial prejudice suffered by the Defendant as a result of Plaintiffs’ and Plaintiff’s counsel’s continued non-compliance with Court orders and the Rules of Civil Procedure,” the judge ruled. “The Court has carefully considered all of the factors addressed in … Kozel …and finds that there are no lesser sanctions than the striking of the Plaintiffs’ pleadings that would achieve a just result in this case.” 

The plaintiffs' appealed the lower court ruling. In the appeal, Bressler argued that Circuit Court Judge Lisa Small had acted properly in dismissing the case.

On March 28, 2019, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court ruling in a 3-to-0 decision, saying that Judge Small had not abused her discretion in dismissing the case with prejudice. 

Also working on the case for Bressler was associate Nicole Houman. 

About the Women Litigators in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale Litigation Practice of Bressler, Amery & Ross
The two Florida offices of Bressler, Amery & Ross have 17 women litigators, at least six of whom have chaired or co-chaired final hearing arbitration/trials in the last year. Even more unusual is that many of the trial teams are all women. In the Miami and Fort Lauderdale offices, the firm has three women principals, three women counsel, and 11 women associates who litigate.


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