Legal Memorandum: Negligence Claims in FL

Issue: Under Florida law, may negligence claims be based on premise liability?

Area of Law: Personal Injury & Negligence, Real Estate Law
Keywords: Negligence claims; Premise liability; Property owner
Jurisdiction: Florida
Cited Cases: 47 So.2d 892; 713 So.2d 1107; 708 So.2d 956
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 09/01/2000

Negligence claims may be based on premise liability, a theory based on a property’s owner’s or possessor’s failure to warn an invitee of a concealed dangerous condition on the premises.  Wimbush v. Gaddis, 713 So.2d 1107, 1107 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1998).  Although a property owner may have delivered possession of the land to another party, he may still be liable for injuries to third persons resulting from hidden dangers which he knew, or should have known, existed on the premises.  Id.  Premise liability is not based on ownership, but on the fact that an owner may be as negligent as any other possessor in failing to warn another.  Id.

In Wimbush, the lessee’s employee slipped and fell on a ramp which she alleged was dangerous.  Id.  She sued the owner-lessor, the Gaddises, rather than the lessee, alleging that the Gaddises knew of the ramp’s condition because of prior falls there, and through exercise of their right of entry and inspection.  Id.  The Gaddises claimed they were not liable because they had surrendered possession and control of the premises, and lacked knowledge of any dangerous condition.  The Court of Appeals ruled that summary judgment in favor of the Gaddises was inappropriate because a genuine issue of material fact existed as to the ramp’s condition and the Gaddises’ knowledge of it.  Id. at 1108. 

Florida law grants an independent contractor the status of business invitee.  Hall v. Holland, 47 So.2d 889, 891 […]

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