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The Summary Judgment Standard in Florida Courts

Earlier this month, a state court in Indiana issued an opinion explaining how the summary judgment standard should be applied by trial courts when there is conflicting evidence presented to the trial judge. In the case, Siner v. Kindred Hospital Limited Partnership, the court explained that summary judgment is not appropriate when there is conflicting evidence regarding a material issue of the case.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in Siner were the surviving loved ones of a woman who had passed on after being placed in the defendant hospital’s care. The allegations involved the hospital’s refusal to provide the deceased with life-sustaining treatment. In short, since the hospital told the deceased’s loved ones that it was unwilling to provide life support in the event it was necessary, the plaintiffs decided to relocate their loved one, who died a short time after her relocation.

The plaintiffs had the case reviewed by a medical review board, which issued the following opinion:  “the defendants failed to comply with the appropriate standard of care, and their conduct may have been a factor of some resultant damages, but not the death of the patient.” The plaintiffs cited the report as evidence that the defendant was potentially liable for the death of their loved one.

The defense read the report differently, arguing that the report clearly stated the defendant’s conduct did not contribute to the death of the plaintiffs’ loved one. In addition to the review board’s opinion, the defense submitted the opinion of an individual doctor on the board, explaining that in his opinion the defendant hospital “did not cause injury to Ms. Siner.”

The defense moved for summary judgment, arguing that all evidence, even when viewed in a light most favorable to the plaintiffs, still prevented them from establishing causation. The lower court granted the defense motion, and the plaintiffs appealed.

On appeal, the court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, reversing the lower court’s judgment. The court held that the defendant’s own evidence seemed contradictory, and when evidence is contradictory, summary judgment is not appropriate.

Summary Judgment in Florida Cases

In Florida, the summary judgment standard is similar to that which was applied in the above case. Under the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, a party is entitled to summary judgment only when there is “no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.” The rule goes on to explain that summary judgment can be appropriate when there is no issue as to liability, but the amount of damages is contested.

Have You Been Injured in a Florida Personal Injury Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any kind of Florida personal injury accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all that you have been put through. In reality, all plaintiffs should be prepared to defend against defense motions for summary judgment. Failing to be adequately prepared for such a motion may result in a case’s early dismissal. To learn more about your case, and to speak with a dedicated South Florida personal injury attorney, call 800-753-5529 to set up a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Unexplained South Florida Accidents May Be the Result of Distracted Driving, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published May 3, 2016.

The Importance of Honesty and Diligence in the Pre-Trial Discovery Phase of a Personal Injury Lawsuit, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published April 25, 2016.

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