Florida Court Affirms Summary Judgment in Negligence Case Filed Against Deceased Worker’s Employer

file0001420997569 morguefile morguefile chelleIn Moradiellos v. Community Asphalt Corp., Inc., a man was tragically killed when he was struck by a truck while working as an asphalt surveyor on the Florida Turnpike. At the time of the accident, the man was employed by an asphalt company that acted as the general contractor for an ongoing road widening project. Following the man’s untimely death, his wife filed a negligence lawsuit against the general contractor and other entities.

In response to the woman’s complaint, the general contractor filed a motion for summary judgment. Such a motion is appropriate when there are no material facts in dispute and one party to a lawsuit is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. According to the asphalt company, it was the deceased man’s employer and consequently enjoyed workers’ compensation immunity. Following a hearing, the trial court granted the general contractor’s motion, and the man’s wife appealed the decision to Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal.

On appeal, the court stated the Florida workers’ compensation law created a strict liability system of compensating workers who were injured on the job as well as certain family members of those killed at work. Under the law, injured employees receive benefits in a timely manner regardless of fault. In return, a Florida employer is immune from negligence and other lawsuits except in cases of intentional torts committed by the employer.

The worker’s widow filed her negligence case against the general contractor under the exception enumerated in Section 440.11(1)(b) of the Florida Statues. To establish an intentional tort under the statute, a worker or his estate must provide clear and convincing evidence that an employer engaged in conduct that was certain to cause a worker’s injury or death, the risk was not apparent to the employee, and the employer deliberately acted to conceal the danger or otherwise prevent the worker from making an informed decision regarding the hazards associated with performing the work.

After examining the facts before it, the appellate court stated a jury could not find that the asphalt company committed an intentional tort based on the undisputed record. The court added that the man was killed as a result of another employee’s blatant disregard for both the asphalt company’s safety policy and the explicit instructions provided to him. Since a trial on the merits was not warranted, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order granting summary judgment in favor of the general contractor.

If you were injured or lost someone close to you in a Miami workplace accident, you need a hardworking personal injury attorney advocating on your behalf. To discuss your right to recover financial compensation for your loss with a caring South Florida workers’ compensation attorney, give the experienced advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. a call today at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Moradiellos v. Community Asphalt Corp., Inc., Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 3rd Dist. 2015

More Blog Posts:

Florida Court Overturns Judgment in Car Accident Case Due to Doctrine of Collateral Estoppel, June 4, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Court Overturns Summary Judgment in Florida Premises Liability Case, June 1, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Photo Credit: chelle, MorgueFile

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