Florida Appeals Court Examines Res Ipsa Loquitur Requirements in Personal Injury Case: MacClatchey v. HCA Health Services of Florida, Inc.

Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals has ruled that a personal injury case should be tried before a jury. In MacClatchey v. HCA Health Services of Florida, Inc., a woman was injured when a framed piece of artwork fell on her head while she was visiting her spouse in the hospital. According to the woman, a hospital worker cleaned up shattered glass from the picture’s frame and showed her broken hooks on which the artwork was previously hung. Following the incident, the woman filed a negligence claim against the hospital. In her lawsuit, the woman stated she was injured because the hospital failed to exercise reasonable care.

The hospital responded to the woman’s lawsuit by filing a motion for summary judgment. In a motion for summary judgment, a party to a lawsuit is asking the court to rule in his or her favor because there are no material facts in dispute and the undisputed facts of the case entitle that party to judgment in its favor. In the hospital’s motion, the company asserted that it did not know or have reason to know the piece of artwork posed a danger. Additionally, the hospital alleged that the negligence doctrine of res ipsa loquitur did not apply to the facts of the case because numerous third parties had access to the artwork. This doctrine infers negligence based upon a party’s resulting harm without requiring direct proof of negligent behavior where the cause of an injury is under the exclusive control of a defendant and the accident is one that normally would not take place but for an act of negligence. The trial court granted the hospital’s motion for summary judgment and the injured woman appealed her case to Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeals.

On appeal, the court stated summary judgment was inappropriate in this case because there was a question of fact regarding whether the framed artwork was under the exclusive control of the hospital. The court also determined that several affidavits offered to the trial court showed the circumstances surrounding the purported failure of the picture hanging hooks were in dispute as well. Because the evidence could permit reasonable people to draw different conclusions, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s decision and stated the case should have been submitted to a jury.

If you were injured by the negligent act of another person or business, you need an experienced lawyer on your side to help you protect your legal rights. The hardworking South Florida personal injury lawyers at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. are available to help you recover the damages your accident injuries merit. To schedule a free confidential consultation with a caring injury advocate, do not hesitate to contact Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. through our website or give call us at (305) 448-8585.

Additional Resources:

MacClatchey v. HCA Health Services of Florida, Inc., Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 4th Dist. 2014

More Blog Posts

Florida Appeals Court Clarifies Notice Requirements in Workers’ Compensation Case: Caceres v. Sedano’s Supermarkets, June 9, 2014, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Panama City Federal Court Orders Department Store to Share Evidence in Slip and Fall Case: Sowell v. Target Corp., June 2, 2014, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Contact Information