Justice Denied: Slip and Fall at a Florida Grocery Store

Slip and fall cases against supermarkets in Florida are governed by an area of the law known as torts–specifically, premise liability. When someone brings a claim against a grocery store, shopping mall, fast-food restaurant, or gas station for a personal injury and sues the defendant, several defenses are typically asserted to try to prevent the injured person from ever getting the case to a jury. FLORIDA LAW FOR BUSINESS OWNERS IN SLIP AND FALL CASES Under Florida law, businesses owe two “separate and distinct” duties to their customers: 1) to warn of concealed dangers which are or should be known to the owner and which are unknown to the customer; and 2) to use ordinary care to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. More than a half-century ago, Florida’s Supreme Court recognized that a business invitee is entitled to expect that the owner will take “reasonable care to discover the actual condition of the premises and either make them safe or warn of dangerous conditions.” It is equally well settled that the business property owner has a right to assume that the invitee will perceive that which would be obvious to him upon the ordinary use of his own senses. This means that Winn-Dixie and other Florida business owners have no duty to warn against an “open and obvious condition which is not inherently dangerous.” Courts have gone on to clarify that the dangerous condition of an object–not simply the object itself–should be considered in either granting or denying a motion for summary judgment. The courts are likewise clear that a duty to warn is different than...

Injured Crew Member Gets Jones Act Injury Case Dismissed

Representing injured passengers against cruise lines like Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Celebrity, and Norwegian is expensive and difficult for the injured and their lawyers. However, it’s a lot easier than what injured crewmembers must face if they get hurt while working on a cruise ship. Take, for example, the case of Miguel Antonio Alvarado Castro, a Honduran injured while working as a cruise ship cabin steward aboard the Pullmantur Sovereign cruise ship.1MIGUEL ANTONIO ALVARADO CASTRO, Appellant, v. PULLMANTUR, S.A., PULLMANTUR CRUISES, S.L., PULLMANTUR CRUISES SOVEREIGN, a foreign corporation, and PULLMANTUR SHIP MANAGEMENT LTD., Appellees. 3rd District. Case No. 3D16-556. L.T. Case No. 14-21552. June 7, 2017.  He was represented by another Miami maritime injury law firm in a Jones Act Claim2The Jones Act says: any seaman who suffers a personal injury in the course of his employment may, at his election, maintain a cause of action for damages at law, with the right to a trial by jury, and in such action all statutes of the United States modifying or extending the common law right or remedy in cases of personal injury to railway employees shall apply.  46 U.S.C. § 3010. against Pullmantur Cruises. He also alleged unseaworthiness, failing to provide maintenance and cure, and failing to treat his injuries. The evidence in the case was Mr. Castro’s allegation that on September 7, 2013, while he was working on the Sovereign, he was severely injured because of the constant heavy lifting, bending, twisting, and turning he had to do as part of his responsibilities as a cabin steward. He sued Pullmantur, a Spanish Cruise line–registered in the Bahamas, but...

Cruise Ship Accident: The Unwelcome Impact of Mega Cruise Ships in Venice, Italy

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Venice, Italy, to take the deposition of a Norwegian Cruise Line nurse in a maritime medical malpractice case and to inspect a Norwegian cruise ship in another passenger cruise ship accident claim. I can report that Venice may be one of the world’s most romantic and beautiful cities. Founded in the 5th century, Venice is spread over 118 tiny islands and has been a major maritime destination since the 10th century. The whole city is an architectural and engineering masterpiece, and virtually every building contains work by the world’s greatest artists.   Since 1987 Venice has been inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is probably why it is a favorite port of call for the competitive cruise line industry, battling not just each other to bring bigger ships with more passengers into Venice’s cruise ship terminal, but also the city itself as it fights to preserve the authenticity of its charming canals, architecture, and local culture. Despite the city’s efforts, as cruise ships continue to increase in size, it is not uncommon for a modern mega ship to disgorge 4-5,000 passengers in a few hours—throngs that can quickly swarm and overwhelm the narrow pedestrian streets and bridges linking the tiny islands. Bargain-hungry cruise passengers, who may have only a few hours to shop and sightsee, prefer fast-food alternatives to leisurely Italian-style meals, causing kebab shops and—heaven forbid—pizza-by-the-slice stands to pop up, trying to meet the demand. The exceptions to the rule are gelatarias offering homemade and handmade artisanal ice cream.   These developments certainly have not made the locals happy....

Discovery in a Florida Personal Injury Accident Case

A Miami restaurant, the Lemoni Cafe, and its landlord who had been operating an illegal sidewalk cafe were recently sued after patrons were injured when a car lost control and crashed into them, causing serious personal injuries. Consequently, the City of Miami mayor, Tomas Regalado, was dragged into the case when the plaintiffs’ lawyers sought to depose him and the City Manager, Daniel Alfonso, to demonstrate that the cafe had been permitted to operate illegally after being repeatedly cited by the code enforcement board. In fact, citations had been issued in December 2011 and March 2014. After the March 2014 citation, the Code Enforcement Board hearing scheduled for June 3, 2014, was continued and ultimately never held. Months later, the accident occurred. The politicians sought protection from the court to prevent the depositions from proceeding, and the request was denied. They then appealed to Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal. Their briefs argued that the plaintiffs could not compel the mayor and city manager’s depositions because they had failed to demonstrate that the mayor and city manager were uniquely able to provide relevant information that could not be obtained from other sources. However, before seeking to take the mayor’s deposition, the plaintiffs had deposed seven other City of Miami officials who presumably should have known how and why the Lemoni Café’s illegal sidewalk café was permitted to continue operating after receiving two citations from code enforcement. These included the code enforcement director, a code enforcement supervisor, and a representative from the mayor’s office, but each City of Miami official testified that he or she did not know. Following a...

Filing a Claim For a Rental Car Accident in Florida: Lawsuit Against Hertz

Florida has very specific laws dealing with the legal responsibilities of rental car companies and car renters when their rented vehicles are driven by people other than the renters specified on the agreements. Our Miami car accident lawyers have long advised people never to drive a rental car for which they have not been specifically listed on the contract as a driver–and never to allow another person to drive a vehicle they have rented unless that person is noted on the rental agreement.    Recently a Broward County jury was asked to decide whether or not Hertz, the rental car company, and Delana Wynn, who rented a car from Hertz, would be legally responsible for an accident caused by Nathaniel Phillips, who happened upon her keys while visiting her house, took the car, and caused a serious accident.1 CLYDE STOKES, LARCESTA STOKES, CANESHA STOKES and CALEB STOKES, Appellants, v. DELANA WYNN, THE HERTZ CORPORATION and NATHANIEL PHILLIPS, Appellees. 4th District. Case No. 4D15-0873. June 7, 2017. Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; Marina Garcia-Wood, Judge; L.T. Case No. 11-016314CACE18.   The evidence in the case file reveals that Ms. Wynn was living in a home with 10 other people who shared some familiar relationship and almost all of whom had parked various vehicles at the house. While her car was in the shop for an extended period, Ms. Wynn rented a car from Hertz. The members of the household would commonly place all the keys in a bowl in the kitchen to make it easier for people to move other cars in an...
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