A recent Florida slip-and-fall lawsuit ended in disappointment for the plaintiff after the Third District Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment for defendant Costco on grounds the element of actual or constructive knowledge had not been established.
Florida is somewhat unique in this requirement, since the legislature in 2010 introduced F.S. 768.0755. Generally, dangerous conditions on a property subject the owner/ controller of that property to premises liability claims if someone is hurt on site. Plaintiffs in all cases need to show negligence, which involves proof that defendant owed a duty of care to plaintiff, defendant breached that duty, the breach caused plaintiff’s injury and plaintiff’s injury resulted in monetary damages. Slip-and-fall lawsuits are a unique subcategory of premises liability claims in that they require evidence the property owner either knew about the dangerous condition or should have known about it and failed to act on it.
To prove actual knowledge, plaintiff must show defendant either created the condition or was expressly made aware of it. Most slip-and-fall lawsuits in Florida, however, are proven with evidence of constructive knowledge. This can be shown in one of two ways, per the statute: The condition existed for a long enough period of time that property owner should have discovered in the exercise of ordinary care or secondly that the condition occurred with regularity and was thus foreseeable. This provision applies only to cases that involve a business establishment wherein an invitee slipped and fell on a “transitory foreign substance,” meaning something that isn’t supposed to be present on the floor and the invitee wouldn’t expect to encounter it. Continue reading →