Brannock & Humphries Convinces Florida Supreme Court To Reaffirm Dangerous Instrumentality Doctrine
In a major victory for plaintiffs around the state, the Florida Supreme Court today agreed with Brannock & Humphries that the Second District Court of Appeal improperly limited the dangerous instrumentality doctrine in declining to apply it to a multi-terrain loader.
The dangerous instrumentality doctrine dates to English common law. It imposes vicarious liability on owners of motor vehicles that, based on common knowledge and common experience, have proven to be particularly dangerous in operation. The doctrine has been applied in Florida to farm tractors, golf carts, cranes, tow-motors, and other similar types of construction equipment.
In this case, both the trial court and the Second District had found that a multi-terrain loader did not qualify as a dangerous instrumentality. Noting that loaders are often operated in construction settings and on public rights-of-way, that loaders weigh thousands of pounds and can move heavy loads, and that loaders present the same dangers to the public as all other types of motor vehicles, the Supreme Court reversed the lower courts’ determinations and remanded the case for entry of summary judgment in favor of Brannock & Humphries’ client.
The Supreme Court’s opinion can be read in full here.