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Law School Case Brief

Hoffman v. Jones - 280 So. 2d 431 (Fla. 1973)

Rule:

A plaintiff in a Florida action based on negligence will no longer be denied any recovery because of his contributory negligence. If it appears from the evidence that both plaintiff and defendant were guilty of negligence which was, in some degree, a legal cause of the injury to the plaintiff, this does not defeat the plaintiff's recovery entirely. The jury in assessing damages would in that event award to the plaintiff such damages as in the jury's judgment the negligence of the defendant caused to the plaintiff. In other words, the jury should apportion the negligence of the plaintiff and the negligence of the defendant; then, in reaching the amount due the plaintiff, the jury should give the plaintiff only such an amount proportioned with his negligence and the negligence of the defendant.

Facts:

A petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of Florida, was certified by the appellate court, on the question: "Whether or not the court should replace the contributory negligence rule with the principles of comparative negligence?"

Issue:

Should the Florida courts apply the principles of comparative negligence and replace the contributory negligence rule?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court of Florida held that the district appellate courts did not have the authority to overrule precedent; however, the Supreme Court of Florida affirmatively answered the certified question and held that a plaintiff in an action based on negligence would no longer be denied any recovery because of plaintiff's contributory negligence. Among other things, the Court applied its opinion to cases already commenced, but generally not to cases in trial.

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