Intentional Tort Exception Strikes Again

In previous blog posts we addressed Florida’s intentional tort exception to workers' compensation immunity. A recent case from Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal has again shown how this law can severely impact and limit a victim’s right to justice.

In the case of Moradiellos v. Community Asphalt Corp., 40 FLW D1326 (Fla. 3rd DCA June 3, 2015) an asphalt surveyor was killed while working on the turnpike. The employee (victim) was working at night in a dark area of the project, approximately 700 ft. away from the nearest lit area and limited to working with a flashlight and a headlamp. At the direction of the employer the truck driver that struck and killed him was working a mile north of Mr. Moradiellos and was told to take the truck to the same area where Mr. Moradiellos was working.

Following the direction of the employer the truck driver drove backwards (going south on the northbound lanes) for over a mile and without any spotter or third party providing any look out. While the truck driver was reversing he ran over and killed the victim. It was confirmed that the truck drivers actions was in violation of company policy.

Because of the limiting impact of the intentional tort exception as provide in the Florida Statutes the court ruled that a trial of fact could not find that the employer committed an intentional tor with the statutory exception and therefore dismissed the decedent’s claim. The trial court held that the facts did not reflect or support a reasonable inference that the contractor was “virtually certain that is conduct would cause injury”.

Although the dump truck driver violated the contractor’s safety policy and instructions on how to approach the work area the appellate court upheld the trial court’s ruling therefore dismissing his case and limiting the decedent’s family’s ability to fully recover.