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Summary Judgment in South Florida Premises Liability Cases

When a plaintiff files a premises liability lawsuit in Florida, the case will go through several stages before it goes to trial. One of the more important stages in most premises liability lawsuits is the summary judgment phase. Summary judgment is a motion that a party can file, asking the court to rule in its favor because they are entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Wet FloorIn order for a summary judgment motion to be appropriate, the moving party must establish that the opposing party cannot succeed, even if all credibility conflicts are resolved in the opposing party’s favor. In Florida, summary judgment is appropriate when there is “no genuine issue as to any material fact and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.”

Thus, during a defendant’s summary judgment motion, the judge must assume that all plaintiff witnesses are credible. If, after assessing the evidence, there is no way that the non-moving party can be successful, summary judgment is appropriate, and the case will be dismissed. However, if an issue of fact is present, summary judgment is not appropriate. A recent case illustrates this process.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff slipped and fell after leaving the restroom at the defendant restaurant. In his deposition, the plaintiff explained that he had left the restroom and was approaching the line to order when he slipped on an oily substance that was immediately outside the restroom.

The restaurant presented video footage, showing a man who appeared to be the plaintiff slip but not fall in front of the cash-register area. The restaurant argued that this showed that the plaintiff was lying, and the court should strike his testimony.

The court, however, refused to strike the plaintiff’s testimony, explaining that the testimony could be consistent with the video in that the plaintiff explained he slipped outside the restroom, and the video did not show this area. Indeed, when presented with the video, the plaintiff acknowledged it was him in the video but stated that the fall in which he injured himself occurred off camera. The restaurant also argued that the hazard on which he allegedly slipped was “open and obvious” because it had recently been mopped, and a “wet floor” sign was placed over the area.

Applying the summary judgment standard, the court considered the plaintiff’s affidavit and held that his case was sufficient to survive summary judgment. The court rejected the restaurant’s argument that the hazard on which the plaintiff allegedly slipped was “open and obvious”; again, the area where he allegedly fell was not on the video footage.

Have You Been Injured in a Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the South Florida law firm of Cohn & Smith have decades of combined experience bringing all types of personal injury cases, including those arising out of slip-and-fall accidents. To learn more about how Florida law may apply to your case, call 954-431-5400 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated personal injury attorney.

Related Blog Posts:

Florida Appellate Court Determines Expert’s Opinion Was Improperly Excluded from Court’s Analysis, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, April 10, 2017.

Florida Appellate Court Discusses When Evidence of Subsequent Remedial Measures Taken by the Defendant May Be Introduced, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, May 1, 2017.

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