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Florida Fifth DCA rules that trial court erred in using balance owed on car loan as measure of damages for motor vehicle negligence plaintiff whose vehicle was totaled in accident

On April 1, 2022, in Turay v. McCray, the Florida Fifth DCA reversed a final judgment for the plaintiff in a motor vehicle negligence case in which the court, after a nonjury trial, awarded the plaintiff damages for the monies he paid to satisfy the balance owed on his car loan after the car was totaled (the plaintiff had already received an insurance check for the assessed value of the totaled vehicle). The Fifth DCA found that the appropriate measure of damages for the total loss of the vehicle was the vehicle’s value on the date of loss, citing, inter alia, Burtless v. Pallero, 570 So. 2d 1140, 1140 (Fla. 4th DCA 1990). The Fifth DCA remanded with directions that the trial court to enter final judgment in favor of the defendant because the plaintiff did not present competent evidence at trial to show that the value of his car on the date of loss exceeded the monies that he previously received from his insurance company for the car.