Recent Florida Supreme Court Ruling: What’s a Statutory Cap?
Just recently in Florida, the legislature enacted a waiver of sovereign immunity. Ultimately, while government organizations, the state government, and smaller community governments could not be sued before the ruling, the ban has now been lifted. However, to compensate for the huge increase in the individual citizen’s power in legal suits, the Florida state legislature also placed a cap on the quantity of money the government organization could be ruled to pay. This new set of guidelines for suing a government or its agency is the first of its kind, and on May 28, 2015, the Florida Supreme Court interpreted the new law for the first time. What did the Court decide, and how could it impact you? First, let’s consider the subject of the case, and how the Court ended up ruling.
What was the Case about?
Back in 2008, a football player at the University of Central Florida passed away during practice. His parents sued the school, alleging that the school failed to supervise and train their staff appropriately. The player’s family won a judgment of ten million dollars, but the school argued that it was under the control of a state agency, and that they therefore could only have to pay up to the cap instituted by the law, a mere $200,000. A judge agreed, and retracted the ten million dollar award, rolling it back to the cap amount. The family appealed the decision to the Florida Supreme Court, who had to determine whether the school was considered a government agency (and therefore couldn’t be required to pay the ten million) or not.
How Did the Court Rule?
The Florida Supreme Court declared it clear that the University of Central Florida was indeed controlled by a government agency, and therefore could not be required to pay more than the $200,000. However, the Court also made an unusual declaration: it reversed the previous court’s judgment and stated that the family of the football player was indeed entitled to the ten million. To resolve the discrepancy, the Court plans to allow the family to find a Florida legislator to sponsor and present a bill asking the remaining money to be provided. While that process has been used in cases past, it has only happened rarely, and the families who pursue it frequently never see another penny.
How Could This Affect Me?
When it comes to personal injury in Florida, the laws are changing day by day, along with the courts’ interpretations of them. At Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian, we have experiencing defending and advising in all manner of personal injury issues, and we’re prepared to explore all avenues of getting your relief. If you’ve suffered an injury and you believe you may have a personal injury claim or would like to discuss and explore your options, contact Barbas, Nunez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian, at any of our offices in Tampa, Palm Harbor, and Land O’Lakes. Call toll-free at 1 (800) 227-2275 for a consultation today.