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Florida Second DCA rules that comparative negligence defense can be raised by defendant in personal injury case brought under Fla. Stat. § 767.01 for injury caused by dog

On September 17, 2021, in Parsons v. Culp, No. 2D20-600, the Florida Second DCA partially reversed a million-dollar jury verdict for the plaintiff in a case involving injuries the plaintiff suffered from an incident with neighbor’s dog. The Second DCA remanded for a new trial limited to the issue of the plaintiff’s comparative negligence. The issue on appeal was whether the strict liability imposed by Florida’s dog damage statutes, Fla. Stat. §§ 767.01 – 767.07, precluded the defendant dog owner from raising the defense of comparative negligence. The Second DCA stated that even though it considered § 767.04, which applies only to bites and not other types of injuries, inapplicable to this case because the plaintiff’s injuries were the result of a fall rather than the direct result of a bite, it was bound by Florida Supreme Court precedent which has held that statutory defenses allowed under § 767.04also apply under § 767.01, which applies to non-bite injuries. See Kilpatrick v. Sklar, 548 So. 2d 215, 216 (Fla. 1989). Since § 767.04 expressly permits a comparative negligence defense, the Second DCA concluded that the defense was allowed under § 767.01 as well.

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