Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., trial attorneys William Grubbs and Christopher D. Hastings, received a summary judgment on behalf of a banking industry client, headquartered in Florida.

In this case, the plaintiff had walked through the bank’s ATM drive-thru lane at 9:00 P.M. and slipped on liquid and fell. Although not sure of the substance, she believed it to be transmission fluid. The plaintiff contended she primarily injured her right shoulder and lower back; underwent surgery to her right shoulder and injections to her neck.

The defense predicated its defense on the basis that plaintiff should not have walked up to the drive-thru ATM and that the accident could not have been prevented.  There was no evidence of how long the spot was present in the drive-thru lane. No employees recalled seeing it beforehand. Further, no one had ever slipped and fallen in the drive-thru lane in 30 years. The bank could not guard against someone slipping while walking through the drive-thru lane, especially after the branch closes for the day. Florida statutes require that, for a slip and fall, there be evidence of actual notice or constructive notice of the spot. Actual notice requires the branch be aware of the hazard beforehand with enough time to mitigate the danger. Constructive notice requires the spot to have been present for a long enough period of time such that the branch ought to have known of the hazard beforehand. The plaintiff possessed insufficient evidence to raise a reasonable inference of either actual or constructive notice.

The Florida Supreme Court amended the state-court standard for summary judgment to mirror the federal-court standard. The new standard for summary judgment became effective May 2021. The defense filed a motion for final summary judgment, arguing the plaintiff lacked insufficient circumstantial evidence that the spot had been present for a lengthy period of time. Hon. Judge Greg Parker agreed and granted the motion, entering final judgment in favor of the defense. This summary judgment triumph is one of the first victories in Florida under the new federal summary judgment standard.

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William Grubbs is co-managing partner of the Tallahassee office.  For nearly 20 years he has focused in the areas of insurance defense, medical malpractice, nursing home defense litigation, and mass tort litigation.  He represents a broad range of professional claims related to all aspects of healthcare, including nursing homes, adult living facilities, hospitals, home health agencies, physicians, medical directors, administrators, nurses, and radiologists.  He represents attorneys, architects, and agents in professional liability matters and in errors and omissions claims. Mr. Grubbs received his law degree from Mississippi College of Law and is licensed to practice law in Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi.

Christopher D. Hastings is an associate in the Tallahassee office. He focuses his practice in the areas of insurance defense, medical malpractice, nursing home defense, premises liability and construction defect.  He received his J.D. cum laude from Florida State University College of Law in 2015. Read more HERE.

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