Instructions: Please, respond to the questions from the below two cases. This assignment should be around 500 words including only the answers. Case Analysis6.1 Blake v. Giustibelli District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District, 182 So.3d 881, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D XXXXXXXXXX). Instructions: Please, respond to the questions from the below two cases. This assignment should be around 500 words including only the answers. Case Analysis 6.1 Blake v. Giustibelli District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fourth District, 182 So.3d 881, 41 Fla.L.Weekly D122 (2016). In the Language of the Court CIKLIN, C.J. [Chief Judge] * * * * [Ann-Marie] Giustibelli represented Copia Blake in a dissolution of marriage proceeding brought against Peter Birzon. After a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship between Giustibelli and her client[,] Blake, and oddly, Birzon as well, took to the Internet to post defamatory reviews of Giustibelli. In response, Giustibelli brought suit [in a Florida state court against Blake and Birzon], pleading a count for libel. Blakes and Birzons posted Internet reviews contained the following statements: This lawyer represented me in my divorce. She was combative and explosive and took my divorce to a level of anger which caused major suffering of my minor children. She insisted I was an emotionally abused wife who couldnt make rational decisions which caused my case to drag on in the system for a year and a half so her FEES would continue to multiply!! She misrepresented her fees with regards to the contract I initially signed. The contract she submitted to the courts for her fees were 4 times her original quote and pages of the original had been exchanged to support her claims, only the signature page was the same. Shame on me that I did not have an original copy, but like an idiot * * * I trusted my lawyer. Dont mistake sincerity for honesty because I assure you, that in this attorneys case, they are NOT the same thing. She absolutely perpetuates the horrible image of attorneys who are only out for the money and themselves. Although I know this isnt the case and there are some very good honest lawyers out there, Mrs. Giustibelli is simply not one of the good ones. Horrible horrible experience. Use anyone else, it would have to be a better result. * * * * No integrity. Will say one thing and do another. Her fees outweigh the truth. Altered her charges to 4 times the original quote with no explanation. Do not use her. Dont mistake sincerity for honesty. In her case, theyre not at all the same. Will literally lie to your face if it means more money for her. Get someone else. * * * Anyone else would do a superior effort for you. * * * * I accepted an initial VERY fair offer from my ex. Mrs. Giustibelli convinced me to crush him and that I could have permanent etc. Spent over a year (and 4 times her original estimate) to arrive at the same place we started at. Caused unnecessary chaos and fear with my kids, convinced me that my ex cheated (which he didnt), that he was hiding money (which he wasnt), and was mad at ME when I realized her fee circus had gone on long enough and finally said stop. Altered her fee structures, actually replaced original documents with others to support her charges and generally gave the kind of poor service you only hear about. Im not a disgruntled ex-wife. Im just the foolish person who believes that a persons word should be backed by integrity. Not even remotely true in this case. Ive had 2 prior attorneys and never ever have I seen ego and monies be so blatantly out of control. Both Blake and Birzon admitted to posting the reviews on various Internet sites. The evidence showed that Blake had agreed to pay her attorney the amount reflected on the written retainer agreement$300 an hour. Blake and Birzon both admitted at trial that Giustibelli had not charged Blake four times more than what was quoted in the agreement. The court entered judgment in favor of Giustibelli and awarded punitive damages of $350,000. On appeal, Blake and Birzon argue that their Internet reviews constituted statements of opinion and thus were protected by the First Amendment and not actionable as defamation. We disagree. An action for libel will lie for a false and unprivileged publication by letter, or otherwise, which exposes a person to distrust, hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy [censure or disgrace] or which causes such person to be avoided, or which has a tendency to injure such person in their office, occupation, business or employment. [Emphasis added.] Here, all the reviews contained allegations that Giustibelli lied to Blake regarding the attorneys fee. Two of the reviews contained the allegation that Giustibelli falsified a contract. These are factual allegations, and the evidence showed they were false. * * * * Affirmed. Legal Reasoning Questions What is the standard for the protection of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment? How did this standard apply to the statements posted online by Blake and Birzon? The First Amendment normally protects statements of opinion, and this can be an effective defense against a charge of defamation. Does it seem reasonable to disregard this defense, however, if any assertion of fact within a statement of opinion is false? Explain. Case 7.3 VeRost v. Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America, Inc. New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Fourth Department, 124 A.D.3d 1219, 1 N.Y.S.3d 589 (2015). Background and Facts Drew VeRost was employed at a manufacturing facility in Buffalo, New York, owned by Nuttall Gear, LLC. While operating a forklift at Nuttalls facility, VeRost climbed out of the seat and attempted to engage a lever on the vehicle. As he stood on the front of the forklift and reached for the lever with his hand, he inadvertently stepped on the vehicles gearshift. The activated gears caused part of the forklift to move backward, injuring him. He filed a suit in a New York state court against the forklifts maker, Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America, Inc., and others, asserting claims in product liability. The defendants established that the vehicle had been manufactured with a safety switch that would have prevented the accident had it not been disabled after delivery to Nuttall. The court issued a summary judgment in the defendants favor. VeRost appealed. Which type of court issued the summary judgment in Mitsubishis favor? A New York state trial court issued the summary judgment. In the Language of the Court MEMORANDUM: * * * * The forklift in question was manufactured by defendant Mitsubishi Caterpillar Forklift America, Inc. (MCFA), and sold new to Nuttall Gear by defendants Buffalo Lift Trucks, Inc. (Buffalo Lift) and Mullen Industrial Handling Corp. (Mullen). The forklift as manufactured was equipped with a seat safety switch that would render the forklift inoperable if the operator was not in the drivers seat. At the time of the accident, however, someone had intentionally disabled the safety switch by installing a jumper wire under the seat of the forklift. As a result, the forklift still had power when the operator was not in the drivers seat. Of the 10 forklifts owned by Nuttall Gear, seven had jumper wires installed that disabled the safety switches. The complaint asserts causes of action against MCFA, Buffalo Lift and Mullen sounding in strict products liability, alleging, inter alia [among other things], that the forklift was defectively designed and that those defendants failed to provide adequate warnings for the safe operation, maintenance repair and servicing of the forklift. * * * Following discovery, the * * * defendants * * * each moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint against them, contending that the forklift was safe when it was manufactured and delivered to Nuttall Gear, and that it was thereafter rendered unsafe by a third party who deactivated the safety switch. What does the term third party mean here? There are two parties immediately involved in this casethe forklift manufacturer and the forklift operator. A third party means someone other than these first two parties, such as another employee (not the lift operator) who works for the purchaser and user of the forklift. What is the issue in this case? Is the modification of a product after its sale an effective defense against a claim of product liability? * * * [The] Supreme Court [of New York] granted the motions and dismissed the complaint in its entirety, and this appeal ensued. Is the appellate court in this opinion referring to the United States Supreme Court? No. New York calls each of its trial courts the Supreme Court. We conclude that the court properly granted the motions of the * * * defendants. * * * A manufacturer, who has designed and produced a safe product, will not be liable for injuries resulting from substantial alterations or modifications of the product by a third party which render the product defective or otherwise unsafe. What is the rule of law in the context of product liability? Among the defenses available in product liability cases is one in which the plaintiff substantially modified the product so as to render it unsafe. Here, the * * * defendants established as a matter of law that the forklift was not defectively designed by establishing that, when it was manufactured and delivered to Nuttall Gear, it had a safety switch that would have prevented plaintiffs accident, and a third party thereafter made a substantial modification to the forklift by disabling the safety switch. [Emphasis added.] Question: Legal Environment – Could VeRost succeed in an action against Nuttall, alleging that the companys failure to maintain the forklift in a safe condition constituted negligence? Discuss.
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