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Summary Judgment Granted to Contractor in Widow’s Negligence Action Brought under Florida’s Intentional Tort Exception to an Employer’s Immunity from Negligence Suits for Work-Related Injuries – Moradiellos vs. Community Asphalt Corporation, Inc.

a long exposure on the side of a highway (the white lines are car headlights)If you have been hurt in an accident and are hoping to recover compensation from the party or parties responsible for your injuries, you should know that there are many factors that go into determining whether you can bring suit against a particular defendant and, if so, the extent to which you can recover losses such as lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering.

This means that two people who have sustained exactly the same injury (or two families who have lost a loved one in an accident) may get a very different result, depending upon how the accident occurred and the identity of the possible defendants in a lawsuit arising from the accident.

The Facts of the Case

In the recent case of Moradiellos vs. Community Asphalt Corporation, Inc., the plaintiff was a widow who sued the defendants, a contractor and others, seeking redress for the death of her husband, who was killed while working on the Florida Turnpike as an asphalt surveyor.

The widow brought suit in both in her individual capacity and as the personal representative of her late husband’s estate. The contractor sought summary judgment on the basis of immunity under the Florida workers’ compensation laws. The Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County granted the contractor’s motion and dismissed the widow’s suit.

The Decision on Appeal

On appeal to the Third District Court of Appeal, the court affirmed. The court began its analysis by noting that the workers’ compensation system is a strict liability system that is supposed to guarantee rapid compensation for injuries incurred on the job. The court also observed that there is a compromise in this system, namely that a worker is generally precluded from bringing a common law negligence lawsuit against his or her employer. The court then recognized that there are some exceptions to this immunity, including liability in cases of intentional torts pursuant to Florida statutes section 440.11(1)(b).

In applying the intentional tort exception to the facts of the case at bar, the court found that a trier of fact could not find that the contractor committed an intentional tort that fell within this statutory exception to immunity. According to the court, the facts neither reflected nor supported a reasonable inference that the contractor was “virtually certain” that its conduct would cause a injury. The court noted that the contractor did not have a record of similar accidents such as the one in which the decedent was killed and that the dump truck driver whose actions led to the decedent’s death had directly violated both the contractor’s safety policy and its specific instructions to approach the area in which the decedent was working prior to his death by driving north on the northbound lanes rather than by driving the dump truck backwards going south on the northbound lanes for over a mile.

To Get Help with Your Fort Lauderdale Work-Related Injury Case

If you or a loved one has been hurt on the job, you should speak with an attorney who is experienced in worker’s compensation and other workplace accident cases. To schedule an appointment with a member of the Cohn & Smith legal team, call 954-431-8100 and ask for a free consultation. We represent injured workers throughout south Florida, including Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, Aventura, Pompano Beach, and Weston.

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