In Florida, recent case law has shed light on some of the nuances of negligence cases, particularly in relation to personal injury claims. These cases are based on a defendant breaching a duty of care to a victim. In this article, we will examine some of the most recent developments in Florida negligence law and what they mean for plaintiffs and defendants alike. Whether you are an attorney or an individual involved in a potential negligence claim, understanding these recent decisions is helpful in protecting your rights and achieving a favorable outcome.
These cases were decided between 2021 and June 2022 relating to public officials, supermarkets, hotels, and other businesses.
- A ballpark visitor brought a negligence claim against the county sheriff. The claim arose from an incident in which a police dog being handled by the sheriff at a baseball game bit a visitor who was at the game. See McKinley v. Gualtieri
- A customer brought a negligence lawsuit against the retail store for personal injury from a slip and fall. In the customer’s affidavit, there were statements that the puddle on the floor of the retail store had several footprints close to it as if others had stepped into it before she fell and that there were cart tracks as if people pushed shopping carts through it. The court found that this did not contradict prior deposition testimony, and thus, could be considered when deciding the summary judgment motion of the retail store in a negligence action. See Greeley v. Wal-Mart Stores East, LP
- A bicyclist brought a personal injury action against a community owner and owners association after the bicyclist collided with a bollard while riding his bike on a promenade in the community and was rendered a quadriplegic. The jury awarded the bicyclist $12 million for future medical expenses and the owners association requested the court remit the cost or order a new trial. The association and the bicyclist could not agree on an amount and therefore the trial court was required to grant a new trial. See L. Property Owners Association, Inc. v. Schnurr
- A hotel guest who tripped and fell in her hotel room, causing her to suffer serious permanent injuries, brought premises liability action against the hotel. A genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether a 3/8-inch change in floor elevation in the hotel room had existed for a sufficient length of time that it could be inferred that the hotel had constructive notice of the dangerous condition created by the elevation change, thus precluding summary judgment. See Dudowicz v. Pearl on 63 Main, Ltd.
- A pedestrian brought action against the city and a restaurant, which leased the building from the city, alleging negligence in a trip-and-fall accident on the sidewalk. The summary judgment was not proper because the restaurant failed to provide evidence that it did not have control over the area where the pedestrian fell and thus would have had no duty concerning the area. See City of Naples v. Chops City Grill, Inc.
- A boat repair shop customer brought a negligence action against the boat repair shop and its manager, alleging that they failed to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition and to warn him of a divot in the seawall, which caused him to slip and fall as he was trying to board a recently repaired boat. A genuine issue of material fact existed as to whether the boat repair shop and its manager should have foreseen that injury could occur as a result of a divot on the edge of the seawall, despite it being an open and obvious condition. This precluded summary judgment on the customer’s negligence claim. See Conrad v. Boat House of Cape Coral, LLC
- A trespasser sued the owner of an apartment building for premises liability and negligence per se, arising from an incident where the trespasser gained access to the rooftop of an apartment building, intentionally jumped from the rooftop to attempt suicide and survived with serious injuries. Generally, there is no liability for the suicide of another or for injuries sustained in a suicide attempt if there is no specific duty of care. The only duty a property owner owes to an undiscovered trespasser is to refrain from causing intentional harm. Therefore, since the apartment building owner did not intentionally cause any harm, the claim was dismissed. See Iacono v. Kingsley Arms Apartments, Inc.
- A supermarket customer and her spouse brought slip-and-fall action against a supermarket, alleging a claim based on injuries the customer sustained after she fell on an oily substance in the supermarket. Jury instructions were given without mention of the statutorily required finding that the supermarket had actual or constructive notice of dangerous conditions arising from the substance. The supermarket was found liable under the improper jury instructions and because of this, the supermarket was entitled to a new trial. See North Lauderdale Supermarket, Inc. v. Puentes
- A customer brought premises liability action against a gas station owner seeking damages for injuries sustained when the customer slipped and fell on oil and gas left by an automobile on the concrete floor of the gas station. There was evidence that the oil was only on the floor for 111 seconds before the customer fell, this was insufficient to establish that the gas station owner had constructive notice of the condition. Plaintiff’s failure to prove constructive notice required a reversal of the previous final judgment and judgment was entered for the gas station. See Speedway, LLC v. Cevallos
- A supermarket customer brought a negligence action against a grocery store, alleging she fell and suffered injury after slipping on liquid detergent on the floor. The detergent was clear and not dirty, there were no footprints in the detergent, the customer had been in the aisle alone for three to five minutes before the incident occurred and an employee of the supermarket had checked the aisle five minutes before the incident. None of the evidence showed that the supermarket had actual or constructive notice of the condition leading to the customer’s fall, and thus summary judgment was proper. See De Los Angeles v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc.
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These recent negligence cases are for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Negligence law is always changing. Therefore, we strongly recommend talking with an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer to learn your rights.