A federal district court recently issued an opinion in a plaintiffs’ appeal in a case involving their daughter’s death. The case arose from a tragic Florida car accident that occurred on New Year’s Day.
According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was driving his mother’s sports car with the plaintiffs’ teenage daughter and another passenger. The driver accelerated to above the speed limit, losing control, and slamming into trees and a lamppost. The driver and another passenger survived the collision, but the plaintiffs’ daughter died at the scene. The state pursued criminal charges against the driver, and the plaintiffs filed a wrongful death suit against the driver, his mother, and the other passenger. However, they could not obtain service on the passenger and dropped him from the lawsuit.
The driver claimed he did not obtain his mother’s consent to drive any of her vehicles, including her golf cart or Porsche sports car. Moreover, the mother testified that she was aware that her son did not have a driver’s license, and she did not permit him to drive her Porsche. The mother moved for summary judgment based on her affidavit and her son’s deposition. In response, the plaintiff presented evidence that the mother permitted her son to drive her golf cart. Further, the plaintiffs contended that the mother presented conflicting evidence regarding whether she ever expressly told her son not to drive her vehicles. The plaintiffs also asked the court to continue the summary judgment motion because they were facing challenges deposing the other passenger. The mother argued that the plaintiffs were causing the delay.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that summary judgment is an essential means to ensure a “just, speedy” and financially feasible action. These actions are only appropriate if the parties are given a “full opportunity to obtain evidence” that they would present if the lawsuit went to trial. In cases where discovery is incomplete, the facts are not developed enough to allow the trial court to determine whether there are any genuine issues of material fact. As such, the summary judgment rules permit a party to move for a continuance so that they can obtain relevant depositions.
In this case, the court found that the plaintiffs adequately met the summary judgment continuance rules. They established that they were met with significant challenges obtaining the relevant depositions. The plaintiffs faced delays obtaining the driver’s deposition because he was in the middle of criminal prosecution and incarceration. Similarly, the other passenger was studying outside of the country and then outside Florida. Therefore, the court reversed the summary judgment as premature and remanded the matter.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Florida Car Accident?
If you or someone you know has suffered injuries or died in a Florida car accident, contact the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada, P.A. The attorneys at our law firm have extensive experience handling claims stemming from car accidents, personal injury, wrongful death, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice. Our highly-rated attorneys have successfully recovered significant amounts of compensation on behalf of Florida injury victims. Contact our law firm at 877-448-8585, to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our office.