Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell Attorney Rob Blank Obtains Summary Judgment in Wrongful Death Case

05.06.10

Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell attorney Rob Blank represented Garrard Carpentry, Inc. ("GCI") in a wrongful death lawsuit brought on behalf of the Estate of Wilfredo Coral. Mr. Coral died when the crane he was repairing tipped over when he extended the boom after performing a repair to the crane's hydraulic system. Plaintiff alleged GCI, the lessee of the crane, failed to prevent people who were not authorized crane operators from operating the crane.

Mr. Coral was employed by First Financial Employee Leasing, Inc. (“First Financial”) to work for First Financial client Garrard Tractor Service, Inc. (“GTS”). Because Mr. Coral’s estate claimed and received workers’ compensation benefits from First Financial’s workers’ compensation insurance company, GCI claimed Plaintiff was barred from bringing this lawsuit because:

1. Mr. Coral waived and released any right to bring this lawsuit when he signed his employee agreement with First Financial;

2. GCI was entitled to workers’ compensation immunity because GCI was Mr. Coral’s special employer at the time of his death, both under the common law borrowed servant doctrine and Fla. Stat. § 440.11(2);

3. The immunity enjoyed by Mr. Coral’s general employer extended to GCI under Fla. Stat. § 440.10(1)(b) because Mr. Coral was injured while performing contract work GCI sublet to Mr. Coral’s employer; and

4. The immunity given to Mr. Coral’s general employer also applied to GCI since Plaintiff sought to hold GCI vicariously liable based on its ownership interest in the crane.

On May 5, 2010, Hillsborough County Circuit Court Judge Herbert Baumann, Jr. granted GCI's Motion for Final Summary Judgment and entered Final Judgment in favor of GCI. GCI's Motion for Fees and Costs are pending.