Conroy Simberg's Hinda Klein Obtains Reversal of Jury Verdict in Case Involving a Player Injured in a Softball Tournament
Posted in Verdicts and Settlements on April 18, 2018
Appellate managing partner Hinda Klein, of the firm’s Hollywood office, was successful in obtaining a reversal of a jury verdict in favor of the Plaintiff in Competitive Softball Promotions, Inc. v. Ayub, Case No. 3D17-1420 (Fla. 3d DCA, April 18, 2018). In that case, the Plaintiff was injured during a softball tournament played at a public park. The company running the tournament rented several of the fields for the tournament from Miami-Dade County, but did not control any of the common areas of the public park. On the morning of the tournament during one of the first games, several members of two teams were involved in a verbal dispute, which led to both teams forfeiting the game. That evening, another fight broke out and the Plaintiff, who was the captain of one of the teams, was injured while on a common area when he attempted to keep other players from fighting. He sued Competitive Softball Promotions, on a premises liability theory, alleging that it had a duty to provide security and was negligent in failing to do so. At trial, the trial court denied CSP’S repeated motions for directed verdict, on the grounds that since CSP used the common areas, it had a duty to ensure the safety of its players, regardless of whether they were injured while on the rented ball fields.
The Third District reversed, finding that CSP was in sufficient possession or control of the common areas of the park so as to vest it with a duty to ensure the safety of those areas. The Court noted that CSP had no right to control access to those portions of the park and, as a result, it did not have the duties of a landowner or possessor. The appellate court also rejected Ayub’s argument that CSP had a duty to secure the area where the fight occurred because it was foreseeable to it that there might be a fight on premises it did not control. The Court found that while there is case law holding that a landowner or possessor can, in some cases, be held liable for injuries sustained outside the borders of their premises, that exception only applies where the defendant’s conduct actually creates a zone of risk outside the boundaries of its premises. Since CSP created no such risk, the exception did not apply here. Accordingly, the appellate court remanded the case with directions to the trial court to enter a judgment in favor of the defendant.