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SUMMARY JUDGMENT FOR DEFENDANT Premises Liability – Hazardous Premises – Alleged dangerous condition in yard – Severed Achilles tendon to landscaper performing lawn care – Surgery performed.

Lee County, FL

This was a negligence action involving a landscaping company’s employee who sued the defendant homeowner, after he sustained injuries while performing lawn care and landscaping services at the defendant’s property. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant allowed a dangerous condition on the premises in the form of rocks, ruts, and debris in the ground of the yard.

Evidence showed that one of the plaintiff’s co-workers drove a mower over or near a rut in the defendant’s yard. An object was projected from the lawnmower and struck the plaintiff in the back of his ankle.

The plaintiff was diagnosed with a severed Achilles tendon as a result of the incident. He underwent surgical repair of the injury.

The defendant filed a motion for final summary judgment, and argued that Florida law does not impose a duty upon landowners to provide safe working environment for employees of independent contractors. The defense contended that the plaintiff’s knowledge of any dangerous condition was equal or superior to the defendant’s knowledge.

The defendant also argued that submitting the case to a jury would violate Florida’s rule against the impermissible stacking of inferences as the object that struck plaintiff’s leg was never identified, and was only suspected to be a rock or shell.

In addition, the defendant maintained that a rock or shell in a yard is an incidental or usual hazard for landscaping employees, and was simply not a dangerous condition that imposes a duty to warn in this context.The court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

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