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Florida First DCA affirms denial of plaintiff’s motion to add punitive damages claim against defendant corporation; emergency room supervisor was not a “manager” under F.S. § 768.72(3) whose conduct could expose the defendant corporation to liability for p

On May 16, 2019, in Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare v. Dukes, No. 1D18-2426, the Florida First DCA affirmed the trial court’s denial of a plaintiff’s motion to add punitive damages claim against the defendant corporation in a defamation lawsuit.  The plaintiff worked at the defendant’s hospital as a patient care assistant in the emergency room until she resigned in lieu of formal termination in 2015.  She claimed in her lawsuit that she had been defamed by an emergency room supervisor regarding the cause of her termination.  The First DCA concluded that the emergency room supervisor was not a “manager” under F.S. § 768.72(3) whose conduct could expose the defendant corporation to liability for punitive damages.  In support of its ruling, the First DCA cited the Third DCA’s decision in  Fetlar, LLC v. Suarez, 230 So. 3d 97, 99 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017), which similarly concluded that a punitive damages claim could not be made against corporate defendants based upon allegations of misconduct by employees -- construction managers, superintendents, and workers -- who were not shown to be officers or managing members of the  companies.

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