Orlando Attorneys Obtain Summary Judgment on Behalf of Funeral Home

Posted in Verdicts and Settlements on January 19, 2024

Rod C. Lundy, a partner, and Luc H. Adeclat, an associate, both of our Orlando office, recently prevailed on a motion for final summary judgment. In this matter, Plaintiff alleged our funeral home client negligently arranged and conducted a funeral procession such that a co-defendant driver in the procession went through a red light and hit Plaintiff’s vehicle. Specifically,  Plaintiff alleged the accident occurred because the funeral home failed to fully instruct those in the procession of the traffic rules outlined in Fla. Stat. 316.1974. 

In response we filed a motion for summary judgment supported with our funeral home’s director’s affidavit stating we conducted no procession that day – that we merely informed attendees of the cemetery address following the church service, and that while some may have followed us we did not officially arrange a procession as defined by the statute.  We further contended the statute imposed no duty on the funeral home to apprise others of the requirements under the statute.  Most importantly we argued that even if our client conducted a procession, the statute immunized them from liability except for intentional acts or gross negligence. 

Plaintiff’s counsel filed no responsive motion or counter evidence until 2 days before the hearing, a clear violation of Rule 1.510 mandating such response and evidence be filed at least 20 days prior to the hearing.  What Plaintiff untimely filed was co-defendant driver’s deposition (taken before our client was brought into the litigation), and at hearing asked the Court to consider this untimely and not properly identified evidence while also asking for a delay to file a response.  Before the hearing we filed a motion to strike the filing of the deposition as untimely and not properly identified. 

At hearing, the Court granted our client summary judgment not only because Plaintiff failed to timely file counter evidence but also the evidence he proffered at the hearing was insufficient to establish gross negligence or intentional acts.  As such, the court found that even if it considered the late filed deposition, that evidence would not overcome the apparent “procession” immunity in the statute.