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Florida Supreme Court addresses scope of "Coverage B", Employers' Liability Coverage, finding it mutually exclusive of Workers' Compensation coverage

Posted in Newsletters - 2014 on December 4, 2014

On December 4, 2014, the Florida Supreme Court issued its opinion in Morales v. Zenith Ins. Co., Case No. SC13-696, a case certified to the Court by the federal Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.  In Morales, Santana Morales, Jr. was crushed to death by a palm tree while working for his employer Lawns Nursery.  His widow settled his workers' compensation claim with Lawns and its workers' compensation/employers’ liability insurance carrier, Zenith.  The settlement contained a release expressly electing workers' compensation as Morales' sole remedy under the Zenith policy.

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Summary Judgment Obtained in Premises Liability Case

Posted in Newsletters - 2014 on November 25, 2014

Michael Wilensky and Elizabeth Izquierdo recently won summary judgment in favor of a landowner in a premises liability action involving a decedent who stepped on a skylight while painting a warehouse and fell to his death.  The decedent was an employee of an independent contractor hired to paint the roof of a warehouse owned by the defendant.  The plaintiff alleged that the owner negligently failed to maintain its premises or allowed a dangerous condition to exist on the premises, or negligently failed to warn the decedent that the skylight would not support his weight.  The court granted summary judgment in favor of the owner, finding that as a general rule an owner of property is not liable for injuries sustained by the employees of an independent contractor while performing work on the premises.  The court further found that the exceptions to that general rule did not apply because the evidence established that the decedent was repeatedly warned about the danger of stepping on the skylight, and because the owner did not actively control the work of the decedent.  The Plaintiff attempted to rely on an affidavit of George Zimmerman to argue that code violations existed on the property.  The Court struck Mr. Zimmerman's affidavit, and found that an alleged code violation could not create a duty where none existed at common law.  

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Summary Judgment Obtained in Wrongful Death Case

Posted in Newsletters - 2014 on October 7, 2014

Cristobal Casal and Diane Tutt, Associates in our Hollywood office, obtained final summary judgment on October 6, 2014 in favor of Defendant, Up & Down Equipment Rental Inc. in the case of The Estate of Manual Juarez v. Florida Power & Light Co., et al., a wrongful death lawsuit filed in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Case No. 11-20553 CA 20, before Judge Ronald Dresnick in Miami, Florida. Manual Juarez was electrocuted while working as a painter on an elevated scaffold, or swing stage, rented to the contractor by our client, Up & Down Equipment Rental.  Mr. Juarez's metal paint roller pole came in contact with a live electric line while he was working near the top of an apartment building in Miami Beach.  The decedent's personal representative sued a number of defendants including our client, which was sued for negligence, negligent entrustment and vicarious liability under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine.

E-Alert_10-07-14.pdf

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Construction company found not liable for injury and subsequent death of thoroughbred horse

Posted in Newsletters - 2014 on September 26, 2014

John Howard obtained a defense verdict in the case of Radosevich v. Dreamstar Custom Homes, Inc.  Originally, the case involved issues of negligence, fraud, and breach of contract with regard to the construction of an equestrian estate in Wellington, FL. The case was  bifurcated by the court so that the negligence portion of the trial could be tried separately from the breach of contract and fraud claims.  In the negligence case the Plaintiff alleged that within 2-3 days of moving into the new equestrian estate, her prize-winning thoroughbred horse, a grandson of Secretariat, stepped on a piece of construction debris that had been negligently discarded by Dreamstar, which caused an abscess in the right front hoof, caused the horse to founder, and led to the ultimate demise of the horse by euthanasia in February 2009.  The Defense argued that the actual cause of the horse's injury and ultimate death was unknown and that there was no evidence that the horse stepped on construction debris, as opposed to any other object on the ground.  A Motion for Summary Judgment and Motion for Directed Verdict were denied by the Court, which held that the evidence was sufficient for the jury to draw an inference that the horse stepped on construction debris, which was the proximate cause of the horse's injury.  After deliberating for 45 minutes, the jury returned a defense verdict, finding that the Defendant was not negligent.

 

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Arbitrator Awards $0 In Property Damage Claim

Posted in Newsletters - 2014 on September 12, 2014

John Edward Herndon, Jr., Partner, in our Tallahassee office obtained an Arbitration Award in favor of Simmons Moving and Storage, Inc. on August 27, 2014 before Arbitrator Thomas Bateman in Tallahassee, Florida.  The Plaintiffs, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, contracted to store some of their personal belongings and furniture with Simmons in 1993. In 2012, the Smiths requested that their belongings be removed from storage and transported by a third-party moving company to their residence in Missouri. Upon arrival of the items at the Smiths' home in Missouri, the Smiths discovered substantial damage to most items of furniture and other property. The Smiths filed a lawsuit in Leon County, Florida, but agreed to attend Arbitration pursuant to the contract for storage.

E-Alert_09-12-14.pdf

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