The Fourth District Court of Appeals has reversed a $3.6 million damage award in the case of a pregnant woman killed while lounging poolside by a hotel, where she was struck by a drunk driver. Plaintiff, decedent’s husband and father of their unborn child, who also died, alleged the hotel was negligent in failing to create a barrier between the cabana and the road, which plaintiff alleged was known to be a hazardous condition.
Although the trial court decided the case in plaintiff’s favor, finding the hotel 15 percent at fault, the appellate court reversed, finding the trial court should have issued a directed verdict on the issue of negligence and also addressed a number of impermissible comments made by plaintiff’s attorney during both opening and closing arguments.
Though the outcome is disappointing for plaintiff, it’s important to highlight why the court decided the way it did, as it’s likely to affect future cases. While this case began with the irrefutable negligence of the drunk driver, this claim at its heart was one of premises liability. The assertion was there was a dangerous condition on the property, defendant hotel knew or should have known about it and yet failed to address it or warn patrons of it. Continue reading