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Florida Second DCA quashes trial order granting plaintiff leave to amend complaint to add punitive damages count in nursing home negligence case

On July 8, 2020, in Life Care Centers of America, Inc. v. Croft, No. 2D19-3040, the Florida Second DCA quashed an order from a Polk County trial court which had granted the plaintiff in a nursing home negligence case leave to amend his complaint to add a count for punitive damages.  The pleading requirements for requesting punitive damages in nursing home negligence cases is governed by § 400.0247, Florida Statutes, which provides that a claim for punitive damages may not be brought unless there is a showing by admissible evidence that has been submitted by the parties that provides a reasonable basis for recovery of such damages when the qualifying criteria in the section are applied. Subsection (2) of § 400.0247 provides that a defendant may be held liable for punitive damages only if the trier of fact, by clear and convincing evidence, finds that a specific person or corporate defendant actively and knowingly participated in intentional misconduct or engaged in conduct that constitutes gross negligence and contributed to the loss, damages, or injury suffered by the claimant.  The Second DCA noted that the neither trial court’s order on review nor the transcript of the trial court’s hearing on the motion reflect any application of the qualifying statutory criteria.

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