In the February 5 Florida Decision Weekly Wrap-up, we’ve focused on the wrongful death case and summary judgment of Itiat v. Foskey in the Florida 1st District Court of Appeals. The plaintiff’s husband died after a rear end collision with a tow truck under wet highway conditions. The defendant filed for summary judgment and the trial court granted the motion, stating that the burden of proof rested with the plaintiff to provide evidence that dissipates the presumption of negligence on the rear driver.
The court found that the plaintiff had failed to provide sufficient evidence, based on two prior Florida cases with similar circumstances. According to the court, there are three general categories of explanations that have been held to rebut the presumption of negligence: 1) an abrupt and arbitrary stop in a place where it could not reasonably be expected or an unexpected change of lanes; 2) a mechanical failure – i.e., sudden brake failure – that causes the rear driver to collide with the lead driver; and 3) the lead vehicle is illegally and, therefore, unexpectedly stopped.
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