Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP Prevails in Florida Supreme Court

TAMPA, Fla. — Duane A. Daiker, a Florida Bar board certified appellate practice specialist and partner at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP obtained a favorable result for his client in an important legal battle before the Florida Supreme Court on Feb. 5, 2015.

The unanimous Florida Supreme Court decision clarified a conflict in the law that could have had detrimental statewide implications.

“When we prevailed in the appeal in the second district, the appellate court recognized a conflict with cases previously decided by the third district, and certified a question of great public importance to the Florida Supreme Court,” said Daiker.

The case, originally tried by C. Philip Campbell, Jr., and Michele Leo Hintson, partners in Shumaker’s litigation practice group, turned on the details surrounding service of process. Under Florida law, a process server is entitled to perform “substitute service” if the intended party is not home, and another individual over the age of 15, who lives at the home, accepts the summons.

The defendant in Shumaker’s case was served by substitute service, and unsuccessfully challenged the validity of the return of service in the trial court. When the defendant appealed the trial court’s determination that the service was valid to the second district court of appeals, Campbell and Hintson turned the case over to Daiker, one of only 169 attorneys in Florida who are board certified in appellate practice.

“An appellate lawyer has a completely different and more specialized skill set than a trial lawyer,” said Julio Esquivel, managing partner for the Tampa office. “Since most litigation attorneys don't handle a lot of appeals, it’s crucial to have the expertise of an appellate attorney like Duane who knows the intricacies and nuances of the appellate court system, and can effectively represent our clients on appeal,” said Esquivel.

In the court’s opinion affirming the judgment in the trial court, the second district court of appeals noted an inconsistency between the state’s appellate districts as to what information had to be included in a return of service.

“The form our client’s process server used is basically the same form everyone in the state uses. The third district’s interpretation of the law, which imposes additional requirements to properly document substitute service, could have created tremendous uncertainty, and potentially undermined thousands of default judgments already entered across the state,” said Daiker.

Daiker stated that the Supreme Court decision promotes stability, and benefits the legal system as a whole, providing clarity and uniformity, both for process servers and for litigants obtaining default judgments.

Practicing at Shumaker since April 1998, Daiker represents individual and corporate clients in a variety of appellate matters. His appellate practice extends to all state and federal appellate courts in Florida. Daiker is active in the appellate practice sections of The Florida Bar and the Hillsborough County Bar Association. Having served on the Executive Council of the Appellate Practice Section of the Florida Bar since 2012, he was elected Vice-Chair in 2014. Daiker is also an officer on the Florida Bar’s Appellate Court Rules Committee.

About Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP

Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick is a full-service business law firm with more than 240 lawyers, 60 paralegals and 495 employees in five offices: Toledo and Columbus, Ohio; Tampa and Sarasota, Florida; and Charlotte, North Carolina. In each of its markets, Shumaker is the premier provider of quality legal services to individuals, small businesses, health care providers, nonprofits and Fortune 500 and international corporations.

The Recent Appellate Decision Has Statewide Implications