Brown v. State, Department of Corrections

701 So. 2d 1211 (1997)

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Brown v. State, Department of Corrections

Florida District Court of Appeal
701 So. 2d 1211 (1997)

Facts

Kelly Curry was injured while she was an inmate with the Florida Department of Corrections (DOC) (defendant), a Florida state agency. Curry initially hired David Shenkman to represent her in a personal-injury action against the DOC. Under Florida law, Shenkman was required to serve written notice of Curry’s claim on both the DOC and the Florida Department of Insurance (DOI). Shenkman provided written notice of Curry’s claim to the DOC. The DOC then forwarded Shenkman’s written notice to the DOI. The DOI notified Shenkman in writing that the DOI was investigating Curry’s claim and would advise Shenkman about the DOI’s position after the investigation. Shenkman did not provide additional written notice of Curry’s claim to the DOI but did respond to the DOI’s written requests for additional information regarding Curry’s claim. Curry subsequently fired Shenkman and hired Jeff Brown (plaintiff), a partner at Lavalle, Brown, Ronan & Soff, P.A. (LBRS) (plaintiff). Brown did not serve written notice of Curry’s claim on either the DOC or the DOI. Brown ultimately terminated Curry as a client. Curry then filed (1) a negligence suit against DOC; and (2) a malpractice suit against Brown and LBRS, alleging that Brown’s failure to serve the DOC and DOI with written notice of Curry’s claim prevented Curry from pursuing her claim against the DOC. The malpractice suit was stayed pending resolution of the negligence suit. Brown was permitted to intervene in the negligence suit; Brown filed an intervenor complaint arguing that the written communications between Shenkman and the DOI waived the DOI notice requirement. The trial court granted the DOC’s motion to dismiss, holding that the statutory notice requirements were not satisfied. Curry did not appeal. However, Brown and LBRS appealed because the dismissal in the negligence case could potentially adversely impact their position in the stayed malpractice suit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Van Nortwick, J.)

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