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Articles Posted in Assault

Florida residents who intentionally or recklessly injure another by their conduct may be held criminally accountable by the government for their conduct with the filing of assault or criminal battery charges. In addition to this criminal liability, a person guilty of an assault that caused an injury can be held accountable for financial and other damages in civil court. A former middle school student’s lawsuit against a school security officer who allegedly assaulted him on school property has recently been addressed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, where the defendant’s claim of qualified immunity was ultimately rejected.

According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff was a 13-year-old boy at the time of the incident. The plaintiff and his mother were checking in with the office at the plaintiff’s school when the security officer was called to address the plaintiff’s behavior. After speaking with the plaintiff for about 2 minutes, the defendant inexplicably grabbed the plaintiff’s face and tackled him to the ground, causing injuries. After the incident, the defendant was fired from his job at the school and ultimately criminally charged with assault for his behavior.

Aside from the criminal proceedings, the plaintiff pursued a civil assault claim against the defendant in federal court. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant acted illegally under his supposed authority as a school security officer, and had no right to detain him with the force applied. Before trial, the defendant successfully argued to the court that he had “qualified immunity” from the charges. The trial court found that the defendant was working within the scope of his authority as a security officer and that the force used was not excessive. The plaintiff appealed the ruling to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Mediation and arbitration are commonly used forms of alternative dispute resolution in Florida. While many use these terms interchangeably, there is a critical distinction between mediation and arbitration. During mediation, the mediator assists the parties in communicating to reach a mutually acceptable and voluntary agreement. In contrast, during arbitration, an arbitrator listens to the parties’ evidence and arguments before ultimately deciding the outcome of the dispute.

On its face, arbitration seems less adversarial and serious than formal legal proceedings; however, in reality, binding arbitration agreements can seriously affect a person’s compensation claims. A long history of case law indicates that Florida courts tend to favor arbitration agreements, even when the agreements are silent regarding the procedures to be followed. As such, it is crucial that those subject to arbitration agreements contact an attorney for representation.

For instance, a Florida appeals court recently reversed a trial court’s ruling and found that a valid agreement to arbitrate existed in a plaintiff’s claim that a massage therapist sexually assaulted her. The case arose when the woman visited a Florida Massage Envy. Following her appointment, the woman filed a multi-count complaint against several entities, including Massage Envy and her massage therapist. Massage Envy filed a motion to compel arbitration in response to the complaint. The trial court found in favor of the plaintiff and concluded that no valid agreement to arbitrate existed.

Those who board a cruise ship for work or vacation have the right to expect a safe, healthy environment with reasonable accommodations. Cruise ship companies and their crew have a duty to ensure safe transportation, including maintaining safe premises. Further, cruise ships departing from Florida ports are considered common carriers under the Shipping Act of 1984. Common carriers owe their passengers a heightened duty of care to protect them from harm and ensure that they arrive at their destinations safely. Companies that fail to meet this standard may be liable under Florida’s maritime and personal injury laws.

Recently, the Eleventh Circuit addressed a case where a cruise ship passenger and one of his friends assaulted another passenger. The court was tasked with determining what duty the cruise company owed to the assault victim in light of maritime law. In this case, the Plaintiff alleged that the cruise line was negligent because it failed to:

  1. Reasonably and properly train security personnel.

In some instances, those who suffer injuries from an intentional act may seek financial compensation from their attackers. Under Florida law, assault and battery victims may file a civil claim against the at-fault party similar to victims of traffic accidents, trip-and-falls, or other accidents in which they suffer harm. These claims are unique in that, unlike many other civil claims, these cases involve an intentional act by the assailant. Florida courts address assault and battery as separate claims, even though they often co-occur.

Assault refers to an intentional unlawful threat to physically hurt another. The threat can stem from the threatening party’s apparent ability to act upon their actions, words, or combination. Aggravated assault tends to involve using a deadly weapon to instill fear in the victim. Deadly weapons can be any mechanism that can inflict serious bodily injury upon a victim, such as a gun, knife, taser, or similar item.

These cases hinge on the claimant’s ability to establish that the threatening party demonstrated a clear intent to inflict harm. An attorney can assist claimants in gathering evidence and preparing a compelling case that illustrates that the threatening party instilled fear. Recently, the Third District Court of Appeals issued an opinion in an appeal of a Florida civil assault claim. The relevant background explains that a couple lived together in an apartment complex when they met with the property manager to discuss renewing the lease in the primary tenant’s name. A disagreement ensued, and the plaintiffs contended that the property manager pulled out a gun and placed it on a table in front of the claimants explaining that he would be vacating their lease.

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