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Court Explains Pleading Requirements in Personal Injury Cases in Florida

Retailers have a responsibility to offer a safe shopping environment for their customers, which includes correcting unsafe conditions. If a store fails to fulfill its responsibilities and a customer is damaged as a result, the injured party may be able to file a civil lawsuit seeking damages. Plaintiffs in personal injury cases must adhere to any applicable pleading rules, though, or their claims may be dismissed. This was demonstrated by a Florida court’s recent decision to dismiss the plaintiff’s lawsuit after determining that her complaint was a shotgun pleading. If you were injured in a retail store accident, you may be able to recover damages, and it’s a good idea to speak with a Florida personal injury lawyer about your options.

The History of the Case

The plaintiff allegedly tripped and fell in a puddle of water while she was shopping at the defendant’s retail establishment. She sustained serious bodily injuries and instituted a case against the defendant, asserting only one claim of negligence. The plaintiff then filed an amended complaint, alleging vicarious culpability and loss of consortium under the negligence count, after the defendant moved the case to federal court. The defendant subsequently moved to dismiss the amended complaint, claiming that it was a shotgun pleading with conclusory accusations.

Pleading Requirements in Personal Injury Cases in Florida

The court ultimately agreed with the defendant and dismissed the amended complaint without prejudice. The court clarified that a shotgun pleading is a pleading where the plaintiff fails to divide various causes of action into separate counts as required by the pleading standards set forth in the federal rules of civil procedure. In the subject case, the court noted that the modified complaint contained a single negligence claim, but the plaintiff nonetheless asserted numerous additional causes of action within that count.

In other words, because the modified complaint only contained one count of negligence, but set forth numerous different legal theories, it was a shotgun pleading. Shotgun pleadings, the court explained, make it difficult for a defendant to respond to the complaint and prepare for discovery. The court also noted that the factual allegations supporting the further claims were lacking. Because each legal theory is a unique cause of action, the court stated that each one should be raised separately and backed by sufficient factual allegations. As a result, the court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss while also stating that the plaintiff could alter her complaint to meet the pleading standards.

Consult a Capable Florida Lawyer

People should be free to shop without fear of harm, but regrettably, many people are wounded in retail businesses due to perilous situations. If you were injured in a shopping-related accident, it is in your best interests to speak with a personal injury attorney about your options. The capable Florida attorneys of Cardoso Law, PLLC, can advise you of your rights and help you to seek any damages you may be owed. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at  (850) 466-2073 to set up a conference.

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