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Appellate and Trial Support

Carlton Fields Jorden Burt’s appellate practice and trial support group includes lawyers who have briefed and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, nearly every U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal, and in the state courts of more than 30 states. Many lawyers in the group devote their practice exclusively to appellate work and handle appeals in cases tried by other firms, as well as our firm’s trial lawyers.

Carlton Fields Jorden Burt handles civil, administrative, and criminal appeals for a wide range of businesses and individuals. We have been entrusted with bet-the-company appeals, as well as appeals on substantive issues important to the client or industry. We often submit amicus briefs as well.

Our appellate practice goes beyond traditional appellate court work. We team with trial counsel (whether from our firm or another) to provide trial support, including preparing and arguing dispositive legal motions. Our appellate lawyers also participate in trials to help preserve the record for appeal.

Through our extensive experience before appellate courts, we have developed a command of procedural rules and requirements, and appellate strategies and techniques that allows us to avoid practice traps on appeal. We watch trends and changes in the law, and write and speak on them regularly.

We receive frequent accolades for practice area excellence, and, most recently, earned a top tier ranking for appellate practice in Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms,” 2014. Our appellate lawyers are often recognized in Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review ratings.

Our group includes former law clerks from numerous federal and state appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court. The group also includes a former judge of Florida's First District Court of Appeal, a former Solicitor General of Florida, a former supervisor of the Appellate Division for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, and three fellows of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, an invitation only national organization. Our group includes the greatest number of attorneys board certified in appellate law of any firm in Florida.

Representative Matters

  • City of Palm Bay v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 114 So. 3d 924 (Fla. 2013).  The Florida Supreme Court invalidated a municipal ordinance that gave local code enforcement liens “superpriority” over previously recorded interests in real property, such as mortgage liens. The court held that the Florida Legislature has adopted a prioritization scheme for recorded instruments, with a general rule of first in time, and that municipalities cannot adopt ordinances that conflict with that statutory scheme by giving certain liens priority over instruments that would otherwise have priority under state law.
  • Farkas v. Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, 518 Fed. Appx. 178 (4th Cir. 2013).The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a decision that put teeth into exclusions of coverage of a directors and officers liability policy where the insured “in fact” committed criminal acts. The insured sought coverage for defense costs for his federal criminal trial for bank, wire, and securities fraud.
  • Ford Motor Company v. Stimpson, 115 So. 3d 401 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013), rev. pending Case No. SC13-1468. Following a verdict in Ford’s favor, the trial court entered judgment in plaintiff’s favor, and alternatively ordered a new trial, finding Ford committed a fraud on the court. The Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed and remanded for reinstatement of the verdict, concluding the record did not support the fraud finding and that the jury had already considered and rejected these allegations. In addition, the court held the new trial was inappropriate.
  • UCF Athletics Ass’n, Inc. v. Plancher, 121 So. 3d 1097 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013), rev. pending Case Nos. SC13-1872, SC13-1874. The Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court’s determination that a private corporation created by the University of Central Florida to administer UCF’s athletics program lacked sovereign immunity under Florida law. The court ordered that judgments entered against our client in connection with a wrongful death case be capped pursuant to Florida’s sovereign immunity law.
  • Farias v. Mr. Heater, Inc., et al., 684 F.3d 1231 (11th Cir. 2012). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of manufacturer. The court held that the product’s English-language warnings were adequate as a matter of law. The court also held that because manufacturer and retailer did not advertise or market the product in Spanish, they were not required to include Spanish-language instructions and warnings. 
  • Union Carbide Corp. v. Aubin, 97 So. 3d 886 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012), rev. pending SC12-2075. The Third District Court of Appeal reversed a $6.6 million judgment and ordered a partial new trial in a products liability case. The court held that a raw asbestos supplier was entitled to a directed verdict on a defective design claim because no evidence showed the alleged design caused the injuries at issue. The court also held that the jury instructions on a failure to warn claim were misleading because they imposed a duty on the raw material supplier to warn users of finished products about the dangers of asbestos without explaining how the supplier could satisfy that burden. The Florida Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction to review this decision and the case remains pending.
  • Hunter v. Runyan, 382 S.W.3d 643 (Ark. 2011). The Supreme Court of Arkansas affirmed the denial of a motion to intervene in a nationwide class action settlement.
  • McKesson Medication Mgmt., LLC v. Slavin, 75 So. 3d 308 (Fla. 3d DCA 2011). The Third District held that a pharmacy operator had no duty to train nurses and doctors regarding medications used during surgery. The court reversed a $5.3 million personal injury judgment and remanded for entry of judgment in operator’s favor.
  • Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll High School, Inc. v. Maynoldi, 30 So. 3d 533 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010). The family of a teenager severely injured in an automobile accident sued his school alleging they were responsible for a party that occurred after school hours and off-campus. The Third District reversed a $12 million judgment for entry of judgment in the school's favor, finding a school has no duty to supervise nonschool related activities. The case also addressed the application of alcohol defense statute to parents of injured minor.
  • Godfrey v. Precision Airmotive Corp., 46 So. 3d 1020 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010). The Fifth District reversed a multi-million dollar verdict against an airplane engine manufacturer on the basis of the improper admission of evidence of other accidents. The appellate court also held that the trial court correctly entered summary judgment in favor of the manufacturer on the issue of punitive damages.
  • American Civil Liberties Union v. Miami-Dade County School Board, 557 F.3d 1177 (11th Cir. 2009). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a preliminary injunction, finding that the school board did not violate the First Amendment in choosing to replace an elementary school library book containing inaccuracies about Cuba.
  • Coleman (Parent Holdings, Inc.) v. Morgan Stanley & Co., Inc., 20 So. 3d 952 (Fla. 4th DCA 2009). The Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed a trial court order denying the plaintiff’s motion to set aside a judgment in Morgan Stanley’s favor. Plaintiff had sought to set aside the judgment and obtain a new trial based upon allegations of fraud after the trial court entered judgment in accordance with the Fourth District’s earlier opinion reversing the $1.58 billion judgment against Morgan Stanley.
  • Embry v. Ryan, 11 So. 3d 408 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009). In a case of first impression, the Second District Court of Appeal held that woman who adopted biological child of her same-sex partner was entitled full faith and credit of adoption entered into in another state.
  • Manor Care, Inc. v. Keith, 218 P. 3d 1257 (N.M. Ct. App. 2009). The New Mexico Court of Appeals reversed a $53.2 million judgment, including punitive damages, against our client, and ordered a new trial. The appellate court agreed that the trial court erred by entering a pre-trial finding that a parent company employed the staff who worked at its subsidiary's nursing home.
  • Alvarez v. Insurance Company of North America, 313 Fed.App’x 465 (3d Cir. 2008). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed dismissal of putative class action by insured under a long term care policy, holding that neither the policy nor sales materials were false or misleading, the insured did not rely on any alleged misrepresentation, and no confidential relationship existed between the insurer and the insured at the time of the alleged misrepresentations.
  • Ford Motor Co. v. Hall-Edwards, 971 So. 2d 854 (Fla. 3d DCA 2007). In this products liability action, the Third District Court of Appeal: i) reversed a $60 million jury verdict in favor of parents of a minor killed in an accident involving an Explorer (based on the improper admission of evidence of other accidents and evidence of subsequent remedial measures); and, ii) ordered a new trial.
  • Engle v. R.J. Reynolds, 945 So. 2d 1246 (Fla. 2006), affirming in part and reversing in part, 853 So. 2d 434 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003). The Florida Supreme Court overturned a $145 billion award in a class action brought against multiple cigarette manufacturers. The appeal involved issues concerning class certification, punitive damages and improper conduct of counsel.
  • Thorn v. Jefferson-Pilot Life Ins. Co., 445 F.3d 311 (4th Cir. 2006). In a case alleging that an insurer’s predecessor violated federal law by charging higher premiums to African American policyholders, we argued that the limitations defense could not be resolved on a classwide basis, and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of class certification.
  • London v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 340 F.3d 1246 (11th Cir. 2003). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed class certification in action brought by credit card applicant against issuer and credit life insurer, alleging Truth in Lending Act violations, finding that the applicant could not fairly and adequately represent the class.
  • Zarella v. Minnesota Mutual Life Ins. Co., 824 A.2d 1249 (R.I. 2003). The Supreme Court of Rhode Island vacated judgment on jury verdict in favor of insured on negligent misrepresentation claim, and affirmed the trial court’s denial of class certification and dismissal of plaintiff’s remaining claims.
  • American Bankers Ins. Co. of Florida v. Booth, 830 So.2d 1205 (Miss. 2002). The Mississippi Supreme Court, on an interlocutory appeal, reversed chancery court’s denial of defendant’s motion to dismiss class action complaint, holding that Mississippi does not permit class actions, including equitable class actions, in chancery court.
  • Great-West Life & Annuity Ins. Co. v. Knudson, 534 U.S. 204 (2002). Argued case before the U.S. Supreme Court that clarified the circumstances in which monetary relief is available under ERISA for breach of fiduciary duty claims.
  • Parkhill v. Minnesota Mut. Life Ins. Co., 286 F.3d 1051 (8th Cir. 2002). In an action alleging deceptive marketing practices, we defeated class certification and obtained summary judgment on behalf of life insurer, which the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.
  • In re LifeUSA Holding Inc., 242 F.3d 136 (3d Cir. 2001). Argued to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that commonality, superiority, and predominance requirements of Rule 23 were not satisfied in a class action case brought by purchasers of deferred annuity contracts, who asserted pre-sale misrepresentation and non-disclosure claims.