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Florida Appellate Court Explains Pleading Requirements in Recent Slip and Fall Case

Slip and fall accidents can lead to serious and long-term injuries. If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property, you may be able to seek compensation for losses that are a direct result of the accident. Our experienced and reliable Miami premises liability attorneys will examine your case to determine your rights and options following a fall.

A Florida appeals court recently issued an opinion in a Florida slip and fall case explaining pleading requirements under state law and discussing whether the plaintiff’s complaint adequately alleged a claim against the defendant. The court held that the plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently alleged a cause of action and reversed the lower court’s decision, permitting the plaintiff’s claim to move forward to trial.

The facts of the case are as follows. The plaintiff was at a local library making copies at a photocopier when she tripped and fell over the bottom drawer of the photocopier. She alleged that the bottom drawer suddenly flew wide open causing her to trip and fall on both knees despite her attempt to prevent the fall. The plaintiff sued the library arguing that the library owned the photocopier and, thus,  had a duty to maintain the machine so it was safe for patrons to use. The trial court held that the complaint failed to state a cause of action and dismissed the case.

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court’s decision explaining that when it is asked to determine whether the allegations in a complaint are adequate to plead a cause of action, the court can only examine the pleading itself and cannot look further than the complaint when considering a dismissal motion. The court further explained that Florida is a fact-pleading jurisdiction as opposed to a notice-pleading jurisdiction. As such, the plaintiff was only required to provide a “short and plain statement” of the facts highlighting that she was “entitled to relief.”

To establish negligence under Florida law, a plaintiff must demonstrate the following elements: i) the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty; ii) the defendant breached the duty owed to the plaintiff; iii) the defendant’s breach was a direct cause of the plaintiff’s injury; and iv) the plaintiff’s suffered measurable damages as a result.

In this case, the court determined that the plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently stated a claim for negligence against the library. The plaintiff’s complaint clearly designated her status as an invitee on the property, listed the date of the accident, the location of the accident on the premises, the cause of her injury and the Library’s supposed failure to maintain and inspect the photocopier. These allegations, according to the court, are enough to state a negligence claim that is plausible on its face.

If you have been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your harm. At the Law Offices of Robert Dixon, our seasoned Miami premises liability attorneys are committed to helping injured clients resolve their case in an effective and efficient manner. For more information, please call us at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) or contact us online today.