Another Win on Appeal

On December 3, 2012, the Florida First District Court of Appeal affirmed a summary judgment we had won for our client (the defendant) in Circuit Court in Nassau County, Florida. Steve O’Hara did the initial legal research and worked the case up, securing key evidence and deposition testimony. Susan argued and won the summary judgment motion in the trial court. The plaintiff took an appeal. Susan wrote the briefs, presented oral argument to the appellate court, and won the decision on appeal. The appeals court issued its decision five days after the oral arguments.

The plaintiff was a roofer who contracted with our client to repair the roof on a commercial building. While doing the work, the roofer fell through a skylight, and broke his back. He was represented by a preeminent plaintiffs’ law firm which sued our client for allegedly maintaining and failing to disclose a hazardous condition.

As a general rule, a property owner is not liable to an independent contractor who is injured in the course of performing the work. There are exceptions to the general rule (1) where the owner actively participates in or directs the work and (2) where the owner is negligent in creating or approving the dangerous condition which caused the injury.

The plaintiff argued that both exceptions applied and also argued that, alternatively, this was a premises liability case in that the contractor was injured, not while actually working on the roof where it was to be repaired, but while walking away from that area of the roof. The trial court did not buy these arguments, and neither did the appellate court.

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