Florida is known to have some of the best nightlife in the country. There are many businesses that do very well in this industry, but with those profits comes the responsibility of ensuring patrons are safe.
Beyond making sure there is adequate security, establishments need also do all they can to make sure their premises is free of any major hazards.
In the case of Feris v. Club Country of Fort Walton Beach, the patron alleges that the managers of the establishment failed to make sure that the dance floor was safe for guests. West Palm Beach injury lawyers know when serious injury result because of an establishment’s failure to keep the floors clean, even and unobstructed, a lawsuit may be required to cover medical expenses and associated damages.
In the Feris case, Florida’s First District Court of Appeals recently reversed a summary judgment in favor of the business, indicating that there were genuine issues of material fact that precluded the earlier finding. The plaintiff alleges that the establishment negligently maintained premises by failing to remove a slippery substance – most likely spilled alcohol – from the dance floor, and further failing to warn him of that condition.
In depositions provided to the court, the victim indicated that there was a no-drinks-on-the-dancefloor policy at the club, but that it was routinely ignored by staffers. He offered several witnesses who attested to this, and also saw him fall. He maintains that he hadn’t had anything to drink, and yet after the fall, his clothes were wet and smelled of alcohol. He stated he hadn’t seen that the floor was wet when he began to dance, and he had no idea how long the substance had been there prior to his fall.
Witnesses testified that after the plaintiff was helped off the floor, an employee walked over to the area where he’d fallen and wiped the floor.
Others said that they were not aware there was a no drinks policy on the dance floor, but if there was, the facility did not enforce it. There was no signage that warned people against it, and to their knowledge, no one with a drink in hand was ever asked to exit the area or set their drink aside.
The fall occurred near a speaker, and several patrons attested to the fact that people regularly placed their drink on the speaker.
Slip-and-fall cases like this have been more difficult to prove since 2010, which was when the Florida legislature passed a bill that put responsibility on the injured party to prove that the establishment knew or should have known about the potentially hazardous substance and yet failed to clean it up. This is spelled out in Florida Statute 768.0710.
At the hearing for summary judgment before the trial court, the establishment argued that because there was no evidence indicating how long the slipper substance had been on the floor, the plaintiff could not reasonably conclude that the establishment allowed it to exist.
The trial court agreed.
However, in reversing that ruling, the appellate court pointed to the dance floor policy. It as a question of material fact as to whether the policy existed and, if so, whether it was routinely enforced.
Slip-and-fall cases in Florida are no longer as simple as they once were, but that does not mean they can’t be successful. Contact a law firm with experience.
If you have been injured in West Palm Beach, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.
Feris v. Club Country of Fort Walton Beach, April 30, 2014, Florida First District Court of Appeals
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