28 May, 2024

Jacobs and Winegeart Obtain 40 Minute Defense Verdict, Protecting Preschool Center from Trip-and-Fall Claim

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In: Verdicts

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Tampa-Hub Partner, Jeremy Jacobs and Associate, Terran Winegeart, successfully showcased the daycare's adherence to regulatory standards and reasonable supervision practices, discrediting the plaintiff's allegations of negligence and securing a rapid jury verdict in favor of the defendant.

Overview of the Case

  • The case involved a trip and fall accident at an Early Education Center.
  • The plaintiff alleged premises liability and negligent supervision.
  • The partial summary judgment was obtained for the premises liability claim last summer.
  • The trial proceeded solely on the negligent supervision claim.
  • The jury deliberated for under 40 minutes after only two days at trial, with the defense resting without calling additional witnesses or experts.

Key Difference-Makers

Claims Made Against Our Client

  • The opposing counsel claimed the teacher on the playground was not supervising, aware of, or interacting with the plaintiff and was using her cell phone.
  • The plaintiff's primary evidence was the child's mother's testimony about surveillance video showing the child's untied shoes and the teacher on her cell phone.

Defensive Strategy

  • QPWB demonstrated compliance with the teacher-to-student ratio mandated by DCF on the accident date.
  • They confirmed that the teacher met DCF certification/training requirements on the accident date and reported the incident to DCF, which did not lead to an investigation>
  • This established that the teacher was present on the playground, not using her cell phone, and positioned to observe the children.
  • It also emphasized there were no rules against running or playing on the playground.
  • Argued the child was running and playing appropriately, and even direct supervision would not have necessitated intervention.

Impact on Final Outcome

  • An aim to undersell in opening statements and over-deliver in evidence presentation which conceded duty, injury, and that the plaintiff was not at fault before the accident.
  • The defense highlighted and clarified key issues to focus the jury on central matters.
  • An emphasis was also placed on the standard of reasonable care, noting that the childcare facility did not have to be perfect.

Predicting the Future

  • This case underscores that childcare facilities are not strictly liable for all accidents on their property and that some accidents are unavoidable and not due to negligence by the childcare facility.

About QPWB

Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is the largest minority and women-owned law firm in the nation with jurisdiction in 45 states and territories in the U.S. allowing us to serve a broad spectrum of industries with over 100 areas of practice. Our lawyers provide representation for businesses and their leaders in litigation, regulatory, and corporate matters.

Discover the QPWB Difference

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