Recent DCA Decisions
There were only two interesting cases decided by the Fifth District, one a family law decision, the other a piece of corporate litigation.
In the family law case, Moore v. Moore, the court reversed a child support determination because the court allowed the child support payor to deduct IRA contributions from his income. In order to get a matching contribution the payor paid money into the IRA. This is not an allowable deduction under §61.30(3), Fla. Stat. (2012). “These payments,” said the court, were “voluntary contributions (albeit for valid and beneficial purposes) on the part of the Husband.”
The court also reversed on a “bridge the gap” alimony issue. The trial court gave an award of bridge the gap alimony, then reduced the award to balance the equitable distribution. This was error said the court. If you need alimony, you need it. It is error to swap equitable distribution money with alimony money. “It would seem to be a matter of common sense that this rule would apply with special force when the alimony at issue is expressly designed to provide immediate funds to the financially disadvantaged spouse with legitimate identifiable short term needs in order to cushion the transition away from being married to being single.”
* * *
The corporate litigation is more complex. But, it does illustrate an important point. Lobbyists keep telling us the legal system is too complicated and reform is needed to get justice for the corporations. However, it seems to me that the big corporations are busy making the system as complicated as they can. Look, for example, at AGIC, Inc. v. North American Risk Services, Inc.
Ellen Novoseletsky was a drone working in the bowels of a law factory. In February of 2011 she was called upon to edit a paragraph of a Managing General Agency Agreement; a task upon which she spent five hours.
There was a lawsuit filed when one of the parties was claimed to have broken the agreement. Then, when one party found out, “Ellen Novoseletsky, a partner at Shutts & Bowen, previously represented IBGA with regard to the drafting of the amended MGA, IBGA moved to disqualify Shutts & Bowen at the same time it filed its answer.” The trial court heard the motion, read affadavits and said, “I think there has to be an evidentiary hearing because there’s no way for this Court to know when you have competing affidavits,” to know who to believe. Inexplicably the judge later entered an order without conducting a hearing. “The judge’s first instincts were correct.” The District Court gave a full, seven-page, explanation of the law on disqualification.
What baffles me is what is the point of this litigation. What could Ms. Novoselstsky possibly have learned in her five hours of paper shuffling? She did not even know that the lawsuit had been filed, and Shutts and Knight built a Chinese Wall to keep her out of the case. How much money was spent litigating this issue? Anyway, there will be a new hearing before Judge Nelson in Sanford where she will get to examine this exciting issue. I’m sure this has done a lot to resolve the litigation.