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Defense summary judgment based on Slavin doctrine.

Michael J. Carney | July 29, 2015

Michael Carney, of the Ft. Lauderdale office, prevailed in obtaining a defense summary judgment in a negligence case arising from a motorcycle accident in which the Plaintiff allegedly suffered brain injuries, as a result of which he was claiming millions of dollars in damages. Mike moved for summary judgment, relying on the Slavin doctrine, whereby a contractor ordinarily cannot be held liable for injuries to third parties that occur due to an alleged patent defect after the work has been completed by the contractor and accepted by the property owner. The key to prevailing on summary judgment was distinguishing our client from the rest of the Defendants. In arguing the motion, Mike creatively illustrated his point that our client was different, and, therefore, not liable, by using an analogy from Sesame Street, specifically, the part where the program shows four pictures and children are asked to pick the one that does not belong. Mike argued that, likewise, in this case, one Defendant did not belong, and that was our client. After a deriding comment in response from opposing counsel, the judge interjected that he appreciated the analogy and found it helpful and persuasive. The court then granted a defense summary judgment in favor of our client. This just goes to show that the lessons we learned from Sesame Street are still applicable in every area of our lives, including our work, and sometimes the best strategy to handle the most complicated facts and law in a dispositive motion is to keep it short and simple.

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