May 22, 2019

Bresky Law Obtains Affirmance of Final Judgment for Tenant Injured at Apartment Building*

Our firm recently obtained an affirmance of a final judgment rendered in favor of an injured tenant following a favorable verdict.

The tenant plaintiff suffered injuries when he fell on the stairs outside of his apartment as the result of a loose handrail. The plaintiff sought damages from the landlord, who owned the apartment complex. The plaintiff obtained a jury verdict in his favor following trial, and the trial court rendered a final judgment awarding the plaintiff damages based on the verdict. The landlord appealed the judgment to the Fourth District Court of Appeal (“Fourth DCA”). We represented the plaintiff in the appeal.

The landlord argued on appeal that the landlord was not liable where the tenant controlled the premises and the landlord had no notice of the defect that caused the tenant’s injury. The landlord also argued that the amount of damages the jury awarded for future medical expenses was unsupported by the testimony of the plaintiff’s medical expert because the expert did not testify with sufficient certainty that the plaintiff would need surgery. The landlord urged the appeals court to reverse the final judgment and order dismissal of the case, or alternatively, a new trial.

We argued that the landlord owed a duty under Florida law to keep the common areas of its apartments in a safe condition, and that the landlord had not relinquished control of the common stairway area where the plaintiff was injured. We also stressed that the plaintiff presented testimonial evidence at trial, from both the building manager and maintenance supervisor, that the landlord had notice of the dangerous handrail condition that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.

We answered the landlord’s medical testimony argument by maintaining that the plaintiff met the legal standard by presenting competent substantial evidence from which the jury could infer the need for the procedure was reasonably certain. We explained that it was for the juryto decide what weight to give the evidence presented, including qualifications regarding certainty of the need for the surgery. We also argued that the plaintiff presented competent substantial evidence of the cost of the procedure. We pointed out that, unlike in the cases relied upon by the landlord, in this case the jury award directly corresponded to the evidence presented regarding the cost of the recommended surgical procedure.

The Fourth DCA upheld the Final Judgment by per curiam affirmance. This favorable result preserved the verdict and judgment in favor of our client and should allow him to receive the amount the jury awarded for his injuries.

* The decision is not final until disposition of any timely filed motions for rehearing.