June 30, 2009

Contact:  Eric W. Boyer, Esq.
Managing Partner/Operations
305-670-1101 Ext. 123


Seymour Elaine

TAMPA, Fla. – Elaine C. Seymour, a partner in the Atlanta office of Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. (QPWB), was granted summary judgments in two related lawsuits. The claims brought by Tamarah Davidson (Davidson) centered on a fall she had sustained while walking on the premises of Dalfen America (Dalfen) when she fell on the surface of uneven sidewalk and sustained multiple injuries.
Although the initial lawsuit against Dalfen had settled, during its process, it was determined that on December 6, 2004, one month prior to the accident, Dalfen had contracted D&E Diversified Services (D&E) for property repairs that included the repair of the sidewalk. The contract stipulated D&E would “barricade [the] area of work” with repairs to commence on the first available day; according to their calendar, construction was scheduled on January 18, 2005, two weeks after the accident.
Two months prior to the statute of limitations, Davidson filed negligence claims against D&E for failure to commence repairs on a timely basis and “individually” against D&E corporate trustee, Deborah Joswig (Joswig). Claiming that in accordance with Florida Statute Section 607.1421(4), an officer of a corporation can be held liable for actions that the officer takes while the corporation is administratively dissolved. In September 2006, D&E had closed its operations but kept the corporation active through annual filings with the Department of State, until 2008 when it failed to file for renewal. Joswig had moved and did not receive the renewal notification. The corporation was administratively dissolved under Florida law.
Seymour established that at the time of the accident, D&E was not in control of the premises; therefore, could not put up barricades until construction commenced. Additionally, she argued that to extend liability as the plaintiff intends would create absurd results in that contractors would not be able to engage in contracts until they were ready to begin the work, or would have to post employees and barricades and continue to supervise those areas until the work began. The trial court agreed, stating that until D&E began construction, they could not be liable for conditions on an owner’s property.
The motion on behalf of Joswig was based on the protections established under the corporate shield doctrine since the accident occurred while the corporation was in existence. Moreover, the defense contends that the Statute plaintiff relies on, refers to actions subsequent to the corporation’s dissolution, and that Joswig had not taken any actions on behalf of the corporation after she learned of its dissolution.
The Honorable J. Rogers Padgett granted Motions for Summary Judgment for both defendants, D&E and Joswig.
About QPWB
Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., is a Florida-based law firm providing legal services to corporations, government entities and individuals in the areas of commercial and civil litigation. With six offices throughout the State including Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Tallahassee, and attorneys licensed in several states including the U.S. Virgin Islands.