Florida Court Finds Injured Woman’s Request to Amend Her Premises Liability Complaint Must be Reconsidered

In Grover v. Karl, a woman was apparently hurt when she fell after a fight broke out at a Florida bar.  Following her injury, the woman sued the alleged property owner for negligence.  Although the woman initially accused another patron of intentionally attacking her, she later stated her fall occurred when the bar manager was shoved into her during a fight between two other individuals.  In response to the woman’s premises liability action, the bar owner filed a motion for summary judgment.  Such a motion may be granted 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 property owner, he had no notice of the allegedly dangerous condition that injured the woman.  The bar owner also argued that the woman’s deposition testimony was inconsistent with her negligence complaint.  Prior to a hearing on the summary judgment motion, the woman filed a motion for leave to amend her premises liability complaint.  In her proposed complaint, the woman accused the bar manager of intentionally committing battery against her.  She also submitted an affidavit in support of her motion, explaining the contradictory testimony.

Next, the trial court granted the bar owner’s motion for summary judgment and denied the woman’s motion for leave to amend her complaint.  According to the court, the woman’s allegations against the bar manager merited the filing of an entirely new lawsuit.  After that, the court dismissed the woman’s case with prejudice and without leave to amend.

On appeal to the District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, the woman argued the trial court committed error when it granted the bar owner’s motion for summary judgment and refused to allow her to amend her complaint.  The appellate court stated a lower court’s decision regarding amending a complaint will not typically be overturned absent an abuse of discretion.  Despite this, the court stated any doubts should be resolved in favor of allowing a lawsuit to be decided based on the merits of the case.

The court next said a court’s refusal to allow a complaint to be amended is an abuse of discretion except when allowing such an amendment would clearly be futile, when it would result in prejudice to the opposing party, or when the privilege to amend was abused by the plaintiff.  Florida’s Second District then stated the record did not show that the trial court considered whether any of these factors existed when it denied the injured woman’s motion.  Since Florida law required the lower court to consider whether the amendment would be futile, result in prejudice, or cause the privilege to be abused, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal reversed and remanded the case for further consideration regarding the woman’s motion for leave to amend her premises liability complaint.

If you were hurt due to a Florida property owner’s negligence, you should speak with a caring Miami premises liability attorney as soon as you are able. To discuss your right to receive financial compensation with an experienced South Florida personal injury lawyer today, do not hesitate to give the skillful advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. a call at (305) 448-8585 or contact us online.

Additional Resources:

Grover v. Karl, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 2nd Dist. 2015

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Disability Benefits Denied Over Misrepresentations Made by Employee in Florida Workers’ Compensation Case, June 15, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

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