Recently, an appellate court issued a written opinion addressing when and to what extent joint and several liabilities apply in Florida premises liability lawsuits. The case stems from an incident that occurred when a woman was attending a party at her friends’ condominium beach club. At the time of the party, the Beach Club’s boat dock was undergoing maintenance and repairs, however, work on the portion right behind the woman’s friends’ condos was halted because of a contract dispute between the Beach Club and the construction company. While walking on the unfinished portion of the boat dock, the woman fell into a hole and suffered serious injuries.
The woman filed a negligence lawsuit against the Beach Club, the construction company, and her friends. The plaintiff claimed the Beach Club breached its non-delegable duty to maintain the dock, the construction company failed to repair and replace the dock reasonably, and her friends violated their responsibility to keep their common areas safe and warn her of any hazardous conditions.
At trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and apportioned damages amongst the parties, finding that Beach Club was 15% responsible, the construction company was 25%, the friends were 50%, and the plaintiff was 10%. Post-trial, the plaintiff asked the court to find that Beach Club and the construction company were jointly and severally liable for 90% of the damages. One of the main issues on appeal was whether Beach Club could be responsible for more than its proportionate share of the damages. On appeal, Beach Club argued that under Florida law, they could not be liable for more than their share of damages because the woman’s friends failed to warn the plaintiff.
In most cases, under Florida law, a property owner owes an invitee two primary duties, to use reasonable care in maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition, and to warn of latent or concealed dangers that should be known to the owner and unknown to the invitee. Generally, these duties are non-delegable, unless the case involves joint tortfeasors. Joint tortfeasors are those that act together to commit a wrong or whose acts independent of each other cause a single injury. In this case, the plaintiff’s complaint alleged that her friends failed to warn her of the dangerous conditions. Unlike the non-delegable duty between Beach Club and the construction company, this duty was separate from Beach Club’s duty, and thus results in the two parties becoming joint tortfeasors. Ultimately, the court found that Beach Club should be jointly and severally liable for the portion of fault attributable to the construction company, but they were not responsible for the friends’ negligence.
Have You Suffered Injuries On Another’s Property?
If you or someone you know has suffered serious injuries on another’s property in Florida, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The attorneys at Friedman Rodman & Frank, P.A. have successfully represented numerous Florida injury victims in their claims for damages. Florida personal injury cases are subject to a significant number of complicated and nuanced statutory provisions, and it is essential you retain an attorney to discuss your rights and remedies. The attorneys at our law firm are up-to-date and possess in-depth knowledge of Florida premises liability laws. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to discuss your injury case with an attorney at our firm.