Friday, January 19, 2018

Water Wars Reach U.S. Supreme Court

This month, attorneys for Florida and Georgia appeared for oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in an original jurisdiction case previously tried before an assigned Special Master back in 2016. A ruling in the decades-long "Water Wars" case came in the form of a recommendation favoring Georgia following the filing of post-trial briefs of each state. Florida seeks to limit Georgia’s water consumption from the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, including Lake Lanier, to 1992 levels and to get reparations for alleged economic and environmental harm to Apalachicola's oyster fisheries from drought. The dispute focuses on the river basin which drains almost 20,000 square miles in western Georgia, eastern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. The Chattahoochee and Flint rivers meet at the Georgia-Florida border to form the Apalachicola, which flows into the bay and the Gulf of Mexico beyond. Special Master, Ralph I. Lancaster, Jr., had strongly advised the states to settle out of court rather than live with a costly decision neither will like. The states mediated the case and even had a post-trial mediation. Florida still seeks a cap on consumption that would alleviate past damage allegedly caused by Georgia. The Sunshine State reportedly gleaned a ray of hope from the high court proceedings. “It’s common sense that that water, if left unattended, would flow down stream,” a testifying riverkeeper in Florida said, a sentiment that appeared to resonate with some of the justices. Justice Elena Kagan acknowledged that Florida had “common sense” on its side. “Can we agree that a cap at the very least would prevent the situation in Florida from getting worse?” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked. Chief Justice John Roberts also weighed in when confronted with the role of the Army Corps of Engineers, “It seems to me it's asking an awful lot of Florida to have to say: We know that the Corps is going to change things the way it benefits us.” A final ruling may not come for months. See more in stories here-- and

Sunday, January 14, 2018

SCOTUS Denies Cert on 5th DCA Ruling Against Arb

The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to review an appellate ruling by Florida's Fifth District Court of Appeal (5th DCA) that found a patient arbitration agreement unenforceable because it ran afoul of state law, despite the health care provider’s warnings that the ruling could render other health care arbitration agreements here unenforceable. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant Kindred Hospital East LLC's certiorari petition, just the latest in a series of long-running battles over the enforceability of health care arbitration agreements. Kindred asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state appeals court’s refusal to force the arbitration of medical malpractice claims, saying the decision violates the Federal Arbitration Act. The fundamental dispute lies between state courts and the high court over the scope of the Federal Arbitration Act, as both sides in the dispute argue in their briefs. Kindred asserted if the ruling below was permitted to stand, every contractual agreement to arbitrate healthcare disputes in Florida would be unenforceable. The underlying Plaintiff had sued Kindred and several doctors for medical malpractice in state court after she suffered unspecified injuries during a 2012 stay at an Ocala hospital, a move Kindred argued was prohibited by an arbitration agreement signed by both parties. Florida's 5th DCA sided with the Plaintiff in the summer of 2016 and overturned a trial court’s ruling that compelled the parties to go to arbitration, per the terms of the contract. The appeals court found that the arbitration agreement was invalid because it selectively incorporated provisions from Florida’s own Medical Malpractice Act (MMA) that were favorable to Kindred and left out provisions favorable to patients. Specifically, public policy prohibits the enforcement of an arbitration provision that incorporates some, but not all, of the MMA's arbitration provisions. See more here-- and and

Saturday, January 6, 2018

FLABAR ADR Section Meeting 1/17/18 in Orlando!

Happy New Year from Orlando Mediator! Please join us as our Executive Council of The Florida Bar Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section convenes in Orlando during the bar's mid-year winter meeting. Founded some eight years ago, around the time I started this blog, the ADR Section was designed to provide a forum for lawyers and attorney-mediators interested in alternative dispute resolution and a place to share common interests, ideas and concepts. It is not for non-lawyer mediators. The ADR Section regularly puts on continuing legal education (CLE) programs, as well as provides advocacy in rule changes, legislation and commentary to the Supreme Court of Florida when dealing with proposed amendments in all forms of alternative dispute resolution. Any member in good standing of The Florida Bar interested in the purpose of our section is eligible for membership upon application and payment of the ADR Section’s annual dues (which are just $35) and can be added to your regular bar dues at the time of renewal. Any member who ceases to be a member of The Florida Bar in good standing shall no longer be a member of the ADR Section under its by-laws. Hope to see you at the Hilton Double Tree Orlando this month as we debate our position regarding important legislation that has been introduced for the next session which I discussed on this blog last month! More information on our meeting and the section can be found here--