There may be a number of potential legal avenues to explore in civil court following a DUI death in Florida. These can include dram shop liability, vicarious liability (of vehicle owner or employer) as well as claims for uninsured/ underinsured motorist coverage. Premises liability, though, isn’t typically one of them. A recent case tested this theory – and won at trial – but was later reversed by the Florida 4th District Court of Appeal.
Plaintiff in this case suffered a terrible tragedy while on vacation for a church retreat in South Florida with his pregnant wife. While sunbathing near the pool cabana, an intoxicated driver recklessly drove her vehicle into the wall of the cabana, collapsing the structure and killing plaintiff’s wife and unborn child, who was 7 months along.
Plaintiff alleged premises liability for negligence in failure to address a potentially dangerous condition on the property (i.e., lack of protective features around the rear of the cabana that abuts a curve around which drivers were known to speed). Jurors at trial returned a verdict finding the hotel’s negligence was a partial cause of death here. Jurors awarded $24 million in total damages, determining the hotel was 15 percent liable and owed $3.6 million to plaintiff. But the 4th DCA ruled the lower court should have granted defense motion for a directed verdict in this matter. Continue reading →