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Florida First DCA rules that “final judgment” under§ 768.24 of Florida’s Wrongful Death Act occurred at the termination of judicial labor at the trial level, affirming trial court ruling reducing recovery by statutory survivor who died during pendency of post-trial motions from $5 million to zero

On February 26, 2021, in Hamblen v. Pilot Travel Centers, LLC, No. 1D19-1613, the Florida First DCA ruled as a matter of first impression that a “final judgment” under Fla. Stat. § 768.24 of Florida’s Wrongful Death Act occurred at the termination of judicial labor at the trial level. The issue arose because the sole statutory beneficiary of a wrongful death lawsuit had died after obtaining a $5 million verdict but before a motion for new trial by the defendant had been ruled upon. Under § 768.24, to recover on a claim for mental pain and suffering, a survivor must be alive at the time of final judgment. The First DCA affirmed the trial court reduction of the $5 million award to zero.

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