Saturday, November 23, 2013

Update to Airport Premises Liability Law in Florida

Ravich Law Firm, P.A. is pleased to release its 2014 Florida Aviation and Space Law Report.

Among the cases reported there is Kenz v. Miami-Dade County, an interesting lawsuit involving the burden of proof in airport slip and fall cases.

After slipping on liquid and falling at Miami International Airport, a pedestrian filed suit against Miami-Dade County, alleging permanent injuries.  At the time suit was filed, Fla. Stat. § 768.0710 (2002) was in effect, providing that in a negligence action involving a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment, “[a]ctual or constructive notice of the transitory foreign object or substance is not a required element of proof to this claim.” 

After suit was filed, but before trial commenced, Fla. Stat. § 768.0755 (2010) took effect and superseded Fla. Stat. § 768.0710, effectively returning Florida law to an earlier status, and providing that a person who slips and falls on a transitory foreign substance in a business establishment “must prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it.”  Miami-Dade County subsequently filed a motion seeking a determination that § 768.0755 was applicable to the case and that the statute should apply retroactively because it was procedural in nature, rather than substantive. 

Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Spencer Eig entered summary judgment adverse to the plaintiff given the absence of any proof the county had actual or constructive notice of any dangerous condition.  Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal affirmed given the procedural nature of issues relating to a party’s burden of proof.