The Week In Torts – Cases from August 5, 2022
Hallelujah! Punitive damages are still a thing…
FLORIDA LAW WEEKLY
VOLUME 47, NUMBER 31
CASES FROM THE WEEK AUGUST 5, 2022
TRIAL COURT PROPERLY ALLOWED AMENDMENT FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES
Bulk Express Transport, Inc. v. Diaz, 47 Fla. L. Weekly D1584 (Fla. 3rd DCA Jul. 27, 2022):
When an appellate court reviews an amendment seeking punitive damages, it only looks to see whether the trial court complied with the procedural requirements of Section 768.72. A defendant may not use certiorari to review a trial court’s determination that the plaintiff made a reasonable showing by evidence in the record to support the existence of a reasonable basis for the recovery of such damages. Appellate courts may not reweigh a trial court’s finding of a sufficient evidentiary basis for punitive damages claim on a petition for a writ of certiorari.
The court explained that it had to confine the scope of its certiorari review to whether the plaintiff proffered evidence to support a punitive damages claim.
Here, after two lengthy hearings involving the plaintiff’s proffer of evidence, the trial court ruled the proffer was sufficient to support the claim for punitive damages; a conclusion that allows the amendment even if the trial court is of the opinion that the preponderance of the evidence is against the plaintiffs.
COMPLAINT ALLEGING “OPERATIONAL LEVEL” FUNCTIONS WILL PROPERLY WITHSTAND DISMISSAL OF A GOVERNMENTAL DEFENDANT
Miami-Dade County v. Perez, 47 Fla. L. Weekly D1584 (Fla. 3rd DCA Jul. 27, 2022):
A man sued the county for injuries he suffered while attending his son’s little league game that arose out of a drunk driver crashing through a chain-link fence onto the field. The erratic driving pinned the man to the ground, and resulted in the amputation of both of his legs.
The plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the county negligently constructed the baseball field in an unapproved location which created an unreasonably dangerous condition, and also that it failed to warn of the dangerous condition.
The appellate court affirmed the trial judge’s denial of the motion to dismiss. It found that accepting all of the well-pled allegations as true, the plaintiff had premised his complaint on operational level decisions and not planning level ones.