Broward County v. CH2M Hill, Inc., et al., 4D18-3401 (Fla. 4th DCA 2020)

Florida’s Fourth Circuit continues trend requiring apportionment of damages in construction cases.

The Court of Appeals rejected the arguments of the plaintiff and held the apportionment of damages by the underlying court utilizing comparative fault was proper. As a result, the allocation of damages by the underlying court per § 768.81, Florida Statutes, was also proper. However, the Court of Appeals did reverse on the amount of damages. The court specifically affirmed that Part II of Chapter 768, Florida Statutes, applies to any action for damages, whether couched in tort or contract. Further, the court noted that, although § 768.81(3), Florida Statutes, requires apportionment of damages in “negligence” actions, negligence is defined in the statute as:

. . . without limitation, a civil action for damages based upon a theory of negligence, strict liability, products liability, professional malpractice whether couched in terms of contract or tort, or breach of warranty and like theories. The substance of an action, not conclusory terms used by a party, determines whether an action is a negligence action.

§ 768.81(1), Florida Statutes (emphasis added).

This new ruling out of the Fourth Circuit continues the trend in Florida requiring apportionment of damages in construction cases, throwing aside the previous use of joint and several liability.


Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2021 is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2021 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.