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Willis v. Gami Golden Glades, LLC

Supreme Court of Florida

October 18, 2007, Decided

No. SC04-1929

Opinion

 [*847]  PER CURIAM.

We have for review a decision of a district court of appeal on the following questions,  [*848]  which the court certified to be of great public importance:

1. IS THE EVIDENCE THAT THE PLAINTIFF WAS TOUCHED AGAINST HER WILL BY THE PISTOL PLACED TO HER HEAD AND IN "PATTING DOWN" HER BODY SUFFICIENT  [**2] TO SATISFY THE FLORIDA IMPACT RULE? SEE AND COMPARE, E.G., GRACEY V. EAKER, 837 SO. 2D 348, 355 (FLA. 2002); ZELL V. MEEK, 665 SO. 2D 1048 (FLA. 1995); EAGLE-PICHER INDUSTRIES, INC. V. COX, 481 SO. 2D 517 (FLA. 3D DCA 1985), REVIEW DENIED, 492 SO. 2D 1331 (FLA. 1986).

2. IS THE EVIDENCE THAT THE PLAINTIFF WAS APPARENTLY THE OBJECT OF AN ASSAULT AND MULTIPLE BATTERIES SUFFICIENT TO SATISFY A "FREE STANDING TORT" EXCEPTION TO THE IMPACT RULE WHICH MAY EXIST IN FLORIDA? SEE KUSH V. LLOYD, 616 SO. 2D 415 (FLA. 1992).

3. IS THE INNKEEPER-GUEST RELATIONSHIP INVOLVED IN THIS CASE A "SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP" UNDER AN EXCEPTION TO THE IMPACT RULE WHICH MAY EXIST IN FLORIDA? ROWELL V. HOLT, 850 SO. 2D 474 (FLA. 2003); GRACEY V. EAKER, 837 SO. 2D 348 (FLA. 2002).

4. SHOULD THE IMPACT RULE BE ABOLISHED?

Willis v. Gami Golden Glades, LLC, 881 So. 2d 703, 705-06 (Fla. 3d DCA 2004) (footnote omitted). We have jurisdiction. See art. V, § 3(b)(4), Fla. Const.

The instant action comes for review after the Third District Court of Appeal has affirmed a final summary judgment in favor of the defendants/respondents, Gami Golden Glades, LLC (hereinafter "Gami") and American Knights Security, Inc. (hereinafter "American  [**3] Security"). See Willis v. Gami Golden Glades, LLC, 881 So. 2d 703 (Fla. 3d DCA 2004). In affirming the summary judgment, the district court held that Florida's impact rule precluded plaintiffs/petitioners (hereinafter "the Willises") from recovering for severe psychological damage allegedly suffered by Marjorie Willis (hereinafter "Mrs. Willis") as a result of the negligence of the defendants/respondents in failing to exercise reasonable care to protect her from foreseeable criminal action. See id. at 704.

Procedural rules require that the facts be viewed most favorably to Mrs. Willis in the review of this summary final judgment. See Moore v. Morris, 475 So. 2d 666, 668 (Fla. 1985) ("The law is well settled in Florida that ] a party moving for summary judgment must show conclusively the absence of any genuine issue of material fact and the court must draw every possible inference in favor of the party against whom a summary judgment is sought."). The facts developed below establish that Mrs. Willis was a guest at a Holiday Inn hotel owned by Gami which had contracted for security services with American Security. See id. When Mrs. Willis arrived at the Holiday Inn for her stay, there were  [**4] no parking spaces available in the hotel parking lot immediately adjacent to the hotel structure. See id. A security guard specifically instructed her to park her vehicle in a parking lot across the street, and when Mrs. Willis expressed concern because the lot was dark and the neighborhood unfamiliar, the guard assured her that it was "safe to park next door" and instructed that she park there. See id. The guard refused any further assistance, to park the car for her, or to even watch for her as she moved to the location designated. See id. Instead, the guard continued to insist that the area was safe, emphasized its safe and secure location, and directed that she move her car  [*849]  across the street. See id. After Mrs. Willis proceeded to park her vehicle across the street in the location directed by the guard and opened the car door, a gun was placed to her head as she began to exit the vehicle. See id.

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967 So. 2d 846 *; 2007 Fla. LEXIS 1903 **; 32 Fla. L. Weekly S 643

MARJORIE WILLIS, et vir, Petitioners, vs. GAMI GOLDEN GLADES, LLC., etc., et al., Respondents.

Prior History:  [**1] Application for Review of the Decision of the District Court of Appeal - Certified Great Public Importance. (Dade County). Third District - Case No. 3D03-2657.

Willis v. Gami Golden Glades, LLC, 881 So. 2d 703, 2004 Fla. App. LEXIS 13377 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist., 2004)

CORE TERMS

physical injury, cases, emotional distress, touching, damages, physical impact, no impact, district court, summary judgment, ingestion, hotel, physical manifestation, colleague, emotional distress damages, manifestation, assailant, gun, cause of action, discernible, recover damages, negligent infliction of emotional distress, mental distress, contaminated, trauma, pain, claimant, confidentiality, foreseeability, courts, psychological trauma

Civil Procedure, Judgments, Summary Judgment, Evidentiary Considerations, Burdens of Proof, Movant Persuasion & Proof, Torts, Types of Negligence Actions, Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress, Elements