Clark Fountain Helps Appellate Court See The Light on G4S’ Overreaching Machinations
Florida Bar Board Certified Appellate Lawyer, and Clark Fountain La Vista Prather & Littky-Rubin Partner, Julie H. Littky-Rubin, Esq., recently assisted a skilled Broward County trial lawyer in the handling of a sovereign immunity case. In Lovelace v. G4S Secure Solutions (USA), Inc., 320 So.3d 178 (Fla. 4th DCA 2021), G4S tried to claim that it was entitled to complete and full immunity under §768.28(9)(a), Fla. Stat., for its negligence in patrolling the Broward County Governmental Center where the Plaintiff fell. Kevin Lovelace, a television photographer, slipped on a piece of plexiglass left outside the Governmental Center while there on a story, ripping his hamstring, and permanently impairing his ability to walk and work again.
G4S tried to convince the Fourth District that notwithstanding its status as a multi-million dollar global corporation, that it was an “agent” of the County, legally incapable of being sued or named as a party Defendant under Florida Statute, §768.28(9)(a): (similar to how sovereign immunity treats teachers, police officers, and other “governmental” employees).
While the Plaintiff argued that the contract between Broward County and G4S created issues of fact regarding the extent of control thereby precluding summary judgment altogether, the Fourth District found that the control was indeed extensive enough to entitle G4S to limited immunity subject to Florida Statute, §768.28(5). Ms. Littky-Rubin also convinced the Florida Supreme Court to reject G4S’s attempt at further review.
G4S has made it its mission to push this untenable “complete sovereign immunity” argument throughout the State (as many subdivisions of the State and Counties hire it to perform security and other services) and it is important that plaintiffs are mindful of this Lovelace decision to defeat those improper – – yet sometimes seductive to trial judges – – attempts.