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Florida First DCA finds that defendant motor vehicle carrier in personal injury lawsuit involving allegedly negligently maintained trailer properly did not have a nondelegable duty to maintain and repair trailer

On December 4, 2019, in Le v. Colonial Freight Systems, et al., No. 1D18-39, the Florida First DCA affirmed a trial court’s final judgment in a personal injury lawsuit in which the plaintiff was injured by a tire that detached from one of the defendant motor vehicle carrier’s trailers. The plaintiff prevailed at trial, obtaining a jury verdict which split the damages between the motor vehicle carrier and its codefendant, the independent contractor repair shop that maintained the defendant’s vehicles. The trial court initially granted plaintiff’s motion to have the motor vehicle carrier held financially responsible for the percentage of the negligence assigned to the repair shop based on the theory that the motor vehicle carrier had a nondelegable duty to maintain and repair the trailer. However, the trial court subsequently reversed its position after concluding that the law did not support a finding of a nondelegable duty in a situation such this, noting that the required periodic inspections had been performed and the applicable federal trucking regulations allow motor carriers to utilize outside qualified mechanics and inspectors. The First DCA agreed, stating that no court either in Florida or elsewhere, has recognized the sort of nondelegable duty alleged in this case.