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Florida Court Discusses Pleading Requirements in Recent Slip-and-Fall Accident

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Florida slip-and-fall case discussing the state’s pleading requirements and whether the plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently alleged a claim against the defendant. Ultimately, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s complaint was sufficient, reversing the lower court’s decision and allowing her claim to proceed towards trial.

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was injured when she tripped and fell while at the local library. Evidently, the plaintiff was making copies when the bottom drawer of the copy machine “flew wide open” without any warning. As a result, the plaintiff tripped and landed on her knees. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the library, claiming that the library “owned the photocopier and had a duty to use reasonable care in maintaining the machine to ensure that it was safe for use by patrons.”

On the library’s motion, the court overseeing the plaintiff’s case determined that the plaintiff failed to state a cause of action and dismissed her claims. Specifically, the court held that the plaintiff did not plead a case that, if proven, would have entitled her to damages. The plaintiff appealed the dismissal of her case.

On appeal, the court reversed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the plaintiff’s case. The court explained that when it is asked to consider whether the allegations in a complaint are sufficient to plead a cause of action, the court can only look to the pleading itself and cannot consider other information. The court also noted that Florida is a “fact-pleading jurisdiction, not a notice-pleading jurisdiction.” Thus, a plaintiff need only provide “a short and plain statement of the ultimate facts showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”

The court explained that in a Florida negligence case, a plaintiff must establish:

  1. a duty was owed to the plaintiff;
  2. the defendant’s breach of that duty;
  3. that injury was caused to the plaintiff from the defendant’s breach; and
  4. damage caused by the injury to the plaintiff.

Here, the court concluded that the plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently pled each of the necessary elements of a negligence claim. Specifically, the court noted that the plaintiff defined her status on the property, the date of the incident, the location of the premises, the cause of her fall, and the library’s alleged failure to maintain the copier in a reasonably safe condition. Because the plaintiff’s complaint covered all the necessary elements, the court held that her case should have been permitted to proceed to trial.

Have You Been Injured on Another’s Property?

If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a Florida slip-and-fall accident, the aggressive Florida injury lawyers at Friedman Rodman & Frank can help. At our South Florida law firm, we represent injury victims and their families in all types of Florida injury claims, including premises liability claims. We have a track record of success over four decades of practice, and look forward to discussing your claim with you to see how we can help. Call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today. Calling is free, and we will not recover anything for our efforts unless we can help you obtain compensation for your injuries.

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