Jury Reaches $6M Verdict In Boca Raton Premises Liability Case
In mid-December 2022, a jury awarded $6 million in damages to a 34-year old man who sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) on the premises of Boca Raton’s “beloved” Mizner Park shopping mall. The man was in the mall’s parking garage when a 15-pound ceiling panel struck him in the head, causing severe injury. While Mizner Park argued that the ceiling was the responsibility of another company, the jury ruled that the mall had a “nondelegable” duty to keep its visitors safe.
Invitees Are Owed High Duty Of Care
Florida premises liability law groups people into three different categories – trespassers, licensees (people who are present for reasons of their own), and invitees. Customers of retail establishments (and users of their outbuildings) are presumed to be invitees, which means that they are owed the highest possible duty of care from the property owner. A property owner must make their premises safe, and if that is not possible, they must warn invitees of any potential dangers of which they are aware – or should be aware.
In 2017, the man was visiting Mizner Park – presumably as an invitee – when he entered an elevator, intending to take it to another floor. A large ceiling panel fell into the car, striking him on the head and causing a TBI that has since caused seizures, as well as depriving him of the ability to drive. There was apparently no sign or warning of any potential danger in the elevators.
Ultimate Responsibility Is With The Property Owner
The mall argued that the upkeep of the parking garage elevators was contracted to another company, Otis Elevator Company, and thus, Otis should be held directly liable, rather than Mizner Park itself. The man’s attorneys were able to convince the jury that even if that job had been contracted out, it was the ultimate duty of the property owner to maintain the premises in a safe condition.
Under Florida premises liability law, an injured invitee will often be able to recover damages as long as they are able to establish that they are indeed an invitee, and also that the defendant either knew or should have known about the hazard that caused the injury. This can sometimes be difficult to prove – but the fact that the jury found Mizner Park to have a nondelegable duty means that it believed the mall should have been aware of the state of its elevators. In addition, that duty means that the entire verdict is collectible from Mizner Park, even though they were only ruled 70 percent liable.
Contact A Tampa Premises Liability Attorney
If you have been injured on premises that do not belong to you, it is important to be aware that you have the right to seek damages against the landowner or business owner. A Tampa premises liability attorney from the Rinaldo Law Group can help answer your questions about the legal process and try to guide you through the legal process. Call our office today for a free consultation.