Ambrose v. Catholic Social Services, Inc., No. 98-2631.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtANTOON, C.J.
Citation736 So.2d 146
PartiesMarion AMBROSE, f/k/a Marion Pellicano, Appellant, v. CATHOLIC SOCIAL SERVICES, INC., etc., Appellee.
Decision Date02 July 1999
Docket NumberNo. 98-2631.

736 So.2d 146

Marion AMBROSE, f/k/a Marion Pellicano, Appellant,
v.
CATHOLIC SOCIAL SERVICES, INC., etc., Appellee

No. 98-2631.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, Fifth District.

July 2, 1999.


736 So.2d 147
Cass W. Christenson and Louis M. Silber of Lewis, Vegosen, Rosenbach, Silber & Dunkel, P.A., West Palm Beach, Bennett Cohn, Tesuque, New Mexico, for Appellant

Robert J. Pleus, Jr., and Stacey L. Cole of Akerman, Senterfitt & Eidson, P.A., Orlando, for Appellee.

ANTOON, C.J.

The trial court dismissed with prejudice Marion Ambrose's five-count complaint against Catholic Social Services, Inc. (CSS), concluding that her action was barred by Florida's statute of repose and statute of limitations.1 We reverse because the allegations set forth in Ms. Ambrose's complaint do not establish, as a matter of law, that her claims are time-barred.

Ms. Ambrose's complaint explained that, in June 1985, she completed an application to adopt a child through CSS. In the application, Ms. Ambrose specifically indicated that she did not want to adopt a special needs child. A child was born on July 31, 1985. On August 6, 1985, the child's biological father reported his medical history to CSS using a five-page form provided to him by CSS. On the first page of the form the father described his current health condition as being "very good." The final three pages of the form set forth a list of medical conditions, and the instructions directed the father to indicate whether he or a genetic relative suffered from any of the

736 So.2d 148
listed conditions by checking either "yes" or "no." Additional space was provided for the father to supplement his answers with comments. One of the conditions listed on the form was manic depression. The father entered both a check mark and a question mark under the "yes" column relating to this condition. In the space for comments he wrote "mild, self analysis." The next day CSS sent the father's medical history form to the child's pediatrician with a cover letter stating: "There are no known hereditary diseases in the background."

Less than a week later, on August 12, 1985, CSS placed the child with Ms. Ambrose for adoption pending formal court approval. Prior to the entry of the final judgment of adoption, CSS provided the trial court with a health background report which did not include a reference to the father's statement regarding manic depression. The final judgment of adoption was entered by the court in October 1986.

Without referencing a specific date, the complaint alleged that after the 1986 adoption the child "began to show serious emotional and psychological symptoms and problems" which required extensive medical treatment. In response to these problems, Ms. Ambrose sought from CSS disclosure of additional health information regarding the child's biological parents. In February 1991, CSS sent Ms. Ambrose a revised medical history which included a reference to the biological father's answer to the question regarding manic depression. Again without alleging a specific date, the complaint stated that "subsequent to the revised disclosure [Ms. Ambrose] spoke with the biological mother, who confirmed that the biological father and his family had a history of mental illness." After receipt of this information, the child was diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder.

In July 1998, Ms. Ambrose filed suit seeking money damages, alleging that CSS placed the child with Ms. Ambrose without disclosing to her that the child's biological father had reported to CSS that he believed that he suffered from manic depression. The complaint further alleged that Ms. Ambrose was injured by this failure to disclose because she adopted a child who was later diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder, and she would not have adopted the child had she been informed of the biological father's medical history.2

Ms. Ambrose divided her claims for relief into five counts: count I—fraudulent misrepresentation/concealment; count II—negligent misrepresentation/failure to disclose; count III—breach of fiduciary duty; count IV—intentional infliction of emotional distress; and count V—negligent failure to investigate/warn. She properly recognizes that counts I, II, III, and IV allege fraudulent conduct and count V alleges negligence.

CSS filed a motion to dismiss the complaint arguing that dismissal was warranted because 1) the fraud claim was barred by Florida's twelve-year statute of repose and four-year statute of limitations, and 2) the negligence claim was barred by Florida's four-year statute of limitations. After...

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9 cases
  • Hess v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., SC12–2153.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 2 April 2015
    ...Corp., 766 So.2d 1076 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000), McLeod v. Barber, 764 So.2d 790 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000), and Ambrose v. Catholic Soc. Servs., Inc., 736 So.2d 146 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999), on a question of law. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(3), Fla. Const.1 The question before the Court, in this......
  • Hess v. Philip Morris U.S., Inc., SC12-2153
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 2 April 2015
    ...766 So. 2d 1076 (Fla. 2d DCA 2000),Page 2McLeod v. Barber, 764 So. 2d 790 (Fla. 5th DCA 2000), and Ambrose v. Catholic Soc. Servs., Inc., 736 So. 2d 146 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999), on a question of law. We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(3), Fla. Const.1 The question before the Court, in thi......
  • Kendron v. SCI Funeral Servs. of Fla., LLC, Case No. 5D16–3600
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 8 December 2017
    ...the statute of limitations.' " Goodwin v. Sphatt, 114 So.3d 1092, 1094 (Fla. 2d DCA 2013) (quoting Ambrose v. Catholic Soc. Servs., Inc., 736 So.2d 146, 149 (Fla. 5th DCA 1999) ).A claim alleging an intentional tort or negligence is required to be brought within four years from the time the......
  • McLeod v. Barber, 5D98-3397.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 21 July 2000
    ...the McLeods' initial complaint was sufficient to avoid Mr. Barber's statute of repose defense. See Ambrose v. Catholic Soc. Servs., Inc., 736 So.2d 146 (Fla. 5th DCA The next question is whether the McLeods' claim of fraud is barred under Florida's four-year statute of limitations, section ......
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