Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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In Florida, parents can be held criminally responsible if alcohol or drugs are consumed on their property during an “open house party”. Florida law provides clearly that “A person having control of any residence may not allow an open house party to take place at the residence if any alcoholic beverage or drug is possessed or consumed at the residence by any minor where the person knows that an alcoholic beverage or drug is in the possession of or being consumed by a minor at the residence and where the person fails to take reasonable steps to prevent the possession or consumption of the alcoholic beverage or drug.” F.S. 856.015(2).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, underage consumtion of alcohol and other illicit drugs continues to ravage the lives of many youngsters and their families. In its latest report, the CDC notes that “alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, more than tobacco and illicit drugs, and is responsible for more than 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth. In 2010, there were approximately 189,000 emergency rooms visits by persons under age 21 for injuries and other conditions linked to alcohol.”

Open house parties in Florida were front and center in the 1990s when a young male teenager was beaten to death by fellow guests of an open house party. The brutal beating took place in the front lawn of the house where the party occurred. The legislator reacted to the events and passed a new law, which is the current law stated above.

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In Florida, a property owner who hires a person to work on the property owes a positive duty to said person to provide them with reasonably safe instrumentalities and a safe place to work. An employer has a duty to use ordinary care and diligence to keep the workplace safe, taking into consideration the exigency of the circumstances and the character of the work to be done.

DSC_6502_resize.jpgIn 2010, our client, John Doe (“JD”), was employed and working as a handyman on a private property in Key West, Florida. Part of JD’s job was to climb up a ladder and trim trees on the private property. In ordering so, under Florida law, the property owner had the duty to provide JD with everything necessary to do the job safely, but he failed to do so.

When JD was sent up the ladder to cut the branches of a large tree, the property owner failed to secure the ladder, either by hiring someone to help steady the ladder or providing a ladder stabilizer to assure the safety of JD. Instead, the ladder slipped while our client was cutting the tree and JD fell on his neck from 15 feet. Our client is now a paraplegic. At age 52, he cannot move his legs, and will never be able to walk or work again for the rest of his life. He has no control over his bowel and bladder. He has no sensation below his chest.

After litigating this matter for over a year, Thomas Scolaro and our team of Florida Personal Injury Lawyers reached a multi-million dollar recovery on behalf of our client. Today, JD lives at home in Key West where he is financially able to afford medical care and assistance on a daily basis, which he will need for the rest of his life.

In JD’s case, the property owner was the responsible party and ultimately settled out of court, but most ladder-related accidents are not attributable to the negligence of a third-party. A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has shown that between 1990 and 2005, more than 2.1 million individuals were treated in U.S. emergency departments for ladder-related injuries. This is the first U.S. study to use national data to comprehensively examine non-fatal ladder-related injuries.
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