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Florida Second DCA rules that defendant County in negligence lawsuit was entitled to sovereign immunity because allegedly negligent acts constituted “discretionary planning-level functions” rather than “acts at an operational level”

On February 2, 2022, in Broward County v. Manarite, et al, the Florida Fourth DCA, No, 4D21-2328, the Florida Fourth DCA reversed a trial court order denying the defendant county’s motion to dismiss on sovereign immunity grounds a negligence lawsuit brought against it by the family of a child who suffered severe injuries while riding his bike. The accident occurred when the child approached a work site being maintained by an independent water control district. At the work site, a waste company’s dumpsters had been placed in the bike path, causing the child to leave the bike path and travel on the street. The child was then struck by a vehicle driving down the street. The plaintiffs alleged in their complaint that that the County had negligently maintained the worksite. The Fourth DCA concluded that the acts and omissions that were allegedly negligent constituted “discretionary planning-level functions” rather than “acts at an operational level” that are subject to the sovereign immunity waiver contained in Fla. Stat. § 768.28. The Fourth DCA acknowledged that if the County had created the alleged dangerous condition, it would have had a corresponding duty to warn the public or protect persons from the condition, citing City of St. Petersburg v. Collom, 419 So. 2d 1082 (Fla. 1982). However, the Fourth DCA found no allegations in the complaint alleging that the county created the allegedly dangerous condition at the worksite.

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