In a previous blog, I wrote that Republicans in the 2010 Florida Legislature had designs on shifting the standard of proof in slip & fall cases to favor business establishments. Despite strong opposition from Democrats and the Florida Justice Association, the Republicans have accomplished their goal.
On Apri 14, 2010, Florida Governor Charlie Crist approved House Bill No. 689, effective July 1, 2010. The bill nullifies the holding in Owens v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc, 802 So. 2d 315 (Fla. 2001) and repeals 768.0710 F.S. The new law, which will be 768.0755, eliminates the burden on the defendant, after the plaintiff has established that his or her fall was caused by a transitory substance, to produce evidence that it exercised reasonable care under the circumstances. This is a major shift and one that will prove decisive in many slip & fall cases.
768.0755 will require the plaintiff to prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition and should have taken action to remedy it. No longer will it be enough for the plaintiff to merely prove that it slipped on a transitory substance, then sit back and see if the defendant can establish that it exercised reasonable care under the circumstances. If the plaintiff is unable to prove that the business establishment had actual or constructive knowledge of the transitory substance, his or her case will fail.
This is another instance of the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature siding with big business rather than the individual.
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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.