Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case presenting an interesting issue that frequently arises in Florida premises liability lawsuits. The case required the court to determine if the defendant maintenance company had a contractually imposed duty to the plaintiff to warn the plaintiff’s employer of any dangerous defects the company discovered while cleaning the parking lot.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was an employee of a restaurant. One day, the plaintiff was asked to empty a grease trap into a dumpster located in the parking lot behind the restaurant. As the plaintiff approached the dumpster, he stepped in an uncovered water meter and spilled grease on himself. As a result, he suffered third-degree burns over his face and body.
The plaintiff initially filed a personal injury lawsuit against several parties; however, this appeal involves the maintenance company that the plaintiff’s employer had hired to maintain the restaurant’s parking lot. According to a contract between the plaintiff’s employer and the defendant maintenance company, the maintenance company was in charge of “sweeping” the parking lot. Also, the contract evidently contained a clause delegating the duty to warn the plaintiff’s employer of “any problems or defects that may be observed during each service visit” and that the company’s services were intended to “safeguard all persons and
property from injury.”
The trial court dismissed the plaintiff’s claim, finding that the contract only required the maintenance company to sweep the parking lot and, thus, did not owe the plaintiff a duty of care. The plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the case was reversed. The appellate court explained that the plaintiff was a third-party beneficiary of the contract and thus the defendant maintenance company had a duty to the plaintiff. The court looked closely at the language in the contract, specifically the language stating that the defendant maintenance company took on the responsibility to inform the plaintiff’s employer of any defects found during their cleanings. This, in addition to the fact that the contract did not contain an exclusionary clause limiting third-party beneficiaries, resulted in the court finding that the defendant did owe the plaintiff a duty of care.
The court went on to hold that the evidence presented was sufficient to submit the plaintiff’s case to a jury for ultimate resolution.
Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has been injured in a South Florida slip-and-fall accident, contact the dedicated personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank. At Friedman Rodman & Frank, we represent Florida injury victims in all types of claims, including slip-and-fall accidents. To learn more about how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation against the parties responsible for your injuries, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Declines to Impose Duty on Landowner to Trim Trees Near Intersection, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 29, 2018.
Court Permits Premises Liability Case to Proceed After Applying the Res Ipsa Loquitor Doctrine, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 13, 2018.