A Florida court rejected an order allowing a plaintiff to add a claim for punitive damages in their negligence-based lawsuit against a nursing home. The Florida appeals court also urged instant appeals of punitive damages orders, according to Law360.
The defendant, Life Care Centers of America, Inc., sought certiorari review of a court’s order granting the plaintiff’s motion to add a claim for punitive damages. Previously, a Florida trial court granted the estate of Bill Croft Senior’s motion to amend its complaint to assert a claim for punitive damages.
A Nursing Home Resident’s Injuries and Punitive Damages
In August 2016, a resident of Life Care Centers of America – Bill Croft Sr. – filed a complaint against the nursing home and Ralph M. Jacobs, alleging violations of the Florida Statutes Section 400.022. Croft was admitted into the nursing home in Winter Haven on July 31, 2014. He stayed there for nearly two months, until September 27, 2014.
Croft’s lawsuit against Life Care Centers of America alleged that he was neglected during his residency. The lawsuit alleged that the neglect resulted in weight loss, infections, skin integrity issues, redness to his coccyx, and other injuries.
In April 2018, Croft filed a motion to amend his complaint to add a count for punitive damages against the nursing home. The plaintiff argued that there was a reasonable basis to assert a claim for punitive damages, as specified in the Florida Statutes Section 400.0237.
However, Croft died before the court had a chance to consider his motion. The estate of Bill Croft replaced the decedent in the lawsuit against Life Care Centers of America. The estate submitted an amended complaint and evidence to support a claim for punitive damages. After reviewing the estate’s motion, the trial court granted its motion to assert a claim for punitive damages.
Why Did the Court Reject a Motion to Add a Claim for Punitive Damages?
Section 400.0237 contains specific requirements for amending a complaint to add a claim for punitive damages in a negligence-based lawsuit. The statute permits a plaintiff to bring a motion to add a claim for punitive damages if they can demonstrate “admissible evidence” that provides “a reasonable basis” for recovering punitive damages.
Under state law, a plaintiff is entitled to receive punitive damages if they can prove that the defendant “actively and knowingly participated in intentional misconduct or engaged in conduct that constitutes gross negligence.”
However, after certiorari review, the Florida court rejected the plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages, arguing that the evidence presented by the estate did not meet the criteria set forth in the aforementioned statute. Thus, the court quashed the order granting the plaintiff’s motion to amend its complaint to assert a claim for punitive damages.
If you believe that you have a claim for punitive damages, consult with our experienced Winter Haven personal injury attorney at The Turnbull Firm. Our skilled lawyer will help you gather sufficient evidence to substantiate your motion and amend your complaint to add a claim for punitive damages. Call at 863-324-3500 to schedule a free case review.