Redistricting trial delayed
The trial to determine the degree politics played when lawmakers redrew congressional districts last year will be delayed so the voting-rights groups contesting maps have more time to build a case.
Attorneys for the state, which noted the Fair Districts coalition has had more than a year to prepare, contend the delay could impact the 2014 elections. The delay, from August until December or January, came as court documents were released Thursday showing an aide to former House Speaker Dean Cannon sent drafts of proposed maps to a Republican Party operative weeks before they became public in 2011.
Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis accepted the request by the Fair Districts coalition — which includes the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause — for additional time to prepare for the trial that was to begin Aug. 19.
The coalition contends the Legislature failed to follow the standards of the 2010 voter-approved, anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendments when crafting new congressional and legislative district lines. Last month, Lewis found consultant Pat Bainter and his Gainesville-based firm Data Targeting in contempt for withholding nearly 1,900 pages of documents that were to be turned over to Fair Districts’ attorneys in April.
Court rejects med malpractice agreement
In a medical-malpractice case that stemmed from a man’s death after hernia surgery, the Florida Supreme Court tossed out an agreement that would have sent the dispute to arbitration and limited damages.
The 5-2 decision by the Supreme Court in a Duval County case is part of a broader legal debate about arbitration agreements that health providers sometimes ask patients to sign before receiving care. Such agreements, which also have frequently popped up in recent years in nursing-home cases, typically short-circuit lawsuits from going before juries.
Justices sided with Donna Franks, whose 67-year-old husband, Joseph, died in February 2009 after complications from hernia surgery. Joseph Franks had signed an arbitration agreement with the surgical practice, North Florida Surgeons, but the Supreme Court majority found that the agreement violated the “public policy” of the state because of its differences with medical-malpractice laws.
FDIC sues Akerman Senterfitt over real estate deal
Law firm Akerman Senterfitt and two of its South Florida lawyers are being sued for $4.6 million by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. over allegations of negligence that led to a loss by the failed Peninsula Bank. The Daily Business Review reported that the chairman of the firm’s Miami banking practice, William C. Arnhols, and Drake Batchelder, former managing partner of the firm’s Fort Lauderdale office, are named as defendants along with the firm, in the suit filed June 14 in U.S. District Court in Tampa.
The suit alleges Peninsula Bank hired Akerman to represent it in a deal to buy lad in North Bay Village in Miami-Dade County to build condos, but that the firm failed to take steps to secure the bank’s interest in the property, which it had purchased. The bank failed in 2010.
Pilot OK after small plane crashes
A 75-year-old pilot is safe after his small plane crashed in an alleyway near Dixie Highway in Pompano Beach.
The Broward Sheriff’s Office reports the 2013 Beachcraft plane went down about 6:23 a.m. Friday, clipping power lines on the way down. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Sandra King says the pilot has 35 years of experience flying planes. He was walking around when firefighters arrived at the scene.
New tools to help Cubans access TV, Radio Marti
The Office of Cuban Broadcasting is debuting two new tools to help Cubans get around Internet censorship and access the agency’s programs.
The U.S. government-produced TV and Radio Marti broadcasts will soon be available on disposable USB flash drives made out of paper. The agency has also developed a text messaging service that allows people to share information through their cell phones.
Neither service requires an Internet connection, allowing users to avoid censorship.
Pier proposal loses support of 2 big backers
A controversial pier proposal has lost the support of two major backers.
The Tampa Tribune reports the $50 million design to replace the city’s pier will appear on an Aug. 27 ballot.
But the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and WOW Our Waterfront have pulled support. WOW was expected to raise donations to persuade voters to back the futuristic design.
Leaders of both groups said Thursday it’s clear the project had divided the city and called on the City Council to terminate the city’s contract with the designer.
The city already has invested millions in the project and on May 31 closed the inverted pyramid pier, a first step toward its eventual demolition.
Post staff and wire services.