The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled on a case that will have far reaching
impacts on some personal injury cases in the future. The case,
Plancher v. UCSFA, made several challenges against Florida’s current statutory cap
against state agencies. Before it ever got to the Florida Supreme Court,
the personal injury victim’s family won a large verdict in the lower
courts. But now the challenge of recovering that verdict has become even
more difficult for the victim’s family.
University of Central Florida Athlete Dies
The case in question is a tragic one. In 2008, a University of Central
Florida football player was participating in the team’s conditioning
drills during practice when he suddenly died. The player’s surviving
family filed a lawsuit against the school’s athletic association,
alleging that they were negligent with how they conducted practice. The
association tried to have the case thrown out before a jury could hear
it, but the judge denied the motion and let it go through trial to a jury.
At trial the jury found in favor of the student athlete’s surviving
family. They awarded the family a verdict of $10 million for the school’s
negligence, but the association appealed. On appeal the school’s
athletic association argued that they should be treated as a state agency,
and therefore have their damages capped at the statutory minimum of $200,000.
While the trial judge rejected this argument, the Fifth District Court
of Appeals agreed. And even more importantly the Supreme Court of Florida
agreed. But the high court did one favor to the family by entering the
$10 million dollar judgement, with an order that the $200,000 minimum be paid.
Florida’s Statutory Cap on Damages
For personal injury cases involving a state agency, Florida has a statutory
imposed cap on how much a victim can recover. No matter how much harm
is caused, any victim is limited to collect $200,000. The law, found in
Florida Statutes 768.28, is where Florida’s waives its sovereign immunity, and establishes
how much any victim can recover in a personal injury or wrongful death
suit. There are many critics of this law, claiming it is unfair to victims
of state negligence, but the Florida Supreme Court consistently finds
that it is constitutional. Having said that however, there is a small
chance for victims as well.
Under the statutory cap law, victims with large jury awards can appeal
to the state’s legislature. When a victim recovers a reward from
a jury, but it exceeds the statutory cap, the victim or victim’s
family can appeal to the legislature and ask them to pass a bill funding
the verdict. It is a last ditch chance that can provide much needed funds
to victims of negligence. In this case, since the Supreme Court entered
the $10 million judgement, the family can appeal to the Florida legislature
to be paid. It is a long shot considering only
11 such bills were passed last year, but it does give them a chance.
Panama City Area Injury Attorney Here for You
The Pittman Firm
represents and fights on behalf of victims of accidents and injuries.
We take on cases ranging from slip and fall accidents, to wrongful death cases.
today so we can evaluate your case.