Florida Court Discusses Summary Judgment Standard in Truck Accident Case

October 27, 2023 | Jarrett Blakeley
Florida Court Discusses Summary Judgment Standard in Truck Accident Case

Collisions involving trucks often cause fatal injuries, resulting in substantial emotional and economic losses. As such, it is not uncommon for a defendant in a lawsuit arising out of a truck accident to seek dismissal of the plaintiff’s claims via summary judgment. A defendant moving for dismissal faces a high burden of proof, however, and in most instances, summary judgment is not appropriate. The standard for granting summary judgment was the topic of a recent Florida opinion, in a case in which the defendant argued that video evidence thwarted the plaintiff’s claims. If you were hurt in a crash caused by a truck, you may be owed damages, and it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Florida car accident attorney to determine your possible claims.

The Accident

It is alleged that the decedent’s car crashed into the back of a commercial truck operated by the defendant driver. The decedent suffered critical injuries in the accident and passed away shortly after. His estate filed a lawsuit against the defendant driver and his employer, alleging their negligence caused the decedent’s death. During discovery, a video was produced that refuted the plaintiff’s assertion that the defendant driver was operating the truck negligently. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment relying on the video, which the court granted. The plaintiff appealed, and the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling. The defendants then appealed, and the question of whether the summary judgment standard should be modified in cases involving video evidence was certified to the Florida Supreme Court.

Grounds for Granting Summary Judgment in Florida

On appeal, the court noted the intermediate court stated it was compelled to reverse the trial court ruling based on the current summary judgment standard, which states that summary judgment is unwarranted if the evidence of record inspires the slightest doubt regarding whether a material issue of fact exists.

The court explained, though, that federal courts handling cases involving video evidence had consistently ruled that when the record, as a whole, could not lead a reasonable fact finder to find in favor of the party opposing the motion, there is no genuine factual dispute. In other words, if the opposing parties present two different versions of events, one of which is clearly contradicted by the record to the extent that no rational juror would believe it, the court should not adopt the false story for purposes of deciding a motion for summary judgment.

Ultimately, the court agreed that Florida should adopt the federal standard, but it felt the appropriate avenue for doing so was the legislature. The court further explained that the current standard was not so clearly inaccurate that it needed to be reinterpreted or rescinded by the courts. As such, the intermediate court ruling was affirmed.

Speak with an Experienced Florida Attorney

Truck accidents can cause catastrophic harm, but many truck drivers are reluctant to admit liability. If you were injured in a collision involving a truck, you should speak to a lawyer about what claims you may be able to pursue. Jarrett Blakeley is an experienced Florida truck accident attorney who can aid you in pursuing any compensation you may be able to recover, and if you hire him, he will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact Mr. Blakeley at (800) 602-5000 or via the form online to set up a conference.

Jarrett Blakeley

Firm founder Jarrett Blakeley fights to get maximum compensation for all of Blakeley Law Firm’s clients. He has been practicing law since 2006 and takes great pride in representing the rights of injured individuals against the insurance companies and the law firms that represent them. He has successfully represented thousands of clients and recovered tens of millions of dollars on their behalf. Mr. Blakeley strives to give all of his clients personal attention and maximum effort and seeks to instill a firm culture that prioritizes customer service and compassion for the injured over all else. Fighting for the injured is Jarrett Blakeley’s greatest passion and he looks forward to fighting for the injured for the rest of his career.

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