The focus of this Case Law Update is the case of Subaqueous Services v. Corbin (https://www.newsomelaw.com/blog/2010/01/25/florida-decision-weekly-wrap-122/), which involved a commercial fisherman seeking and receiving damages after his boat struck an unmarked dredge pipe left behind by a commercial dredging company. In this case, the court addressed three specific issues – the admissibility of prior accidents, the Pennsylvania rule, and sufficient evidence for predicting the loss of income.
The defense argued that the plaintiff’s accident could not have happened in the manner and at the time that had been previously stated, however the court allowed for the admission of at least one prior accident involving the same pipe. The 1st District Court of Appeal maintained that evidence of a prior similar accident is admissible to show the existence of a dangerous condition.
The Pennsylvania Rule has existed since 1872 and states that the “burden rests upon the ship of showing not merely that her fault might not have been one of the causes, or that it probably was not, but that it could not have been.” The 1st DCA maintained that this rule had been interpreted to require a general standard of due care.
Finally, after the jury returned a verdict in the favor of the plaintiff, the defendant filed a motion for a new trial on the grounds that the awards for damages lacked sufficient evidence in regard to predicting future wages. The court denied the motion for a new trial and the awards for damages stood.