In Seale v. Ocean Reef Club, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida explains the basic elements of Florida negligence law as it applies to an unfortunate bicycle-golf cart accident.
Mr. Seale while riding his bicycle at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo in January 2011 when he was struck by a golf cart driven by a 12-year-old girl. Seale, a part time resident of the Club, later sued Ocean Reef, the Club's community association (OCRA) and the girl's father (Mr. Clark) for negligence, among other claims. He alleged that Clark's daughter had been issued a license by the OCRA to drive golf carts on the property and was operating a cart loaned to her by the club at the time of the accident. According to Williams, the girl caused the accident by driving carelessly and failed to pay attention to the road, exceeded proper speeds and neglected to brake appropriately.
Denying OCRA's motion to dismiss the negligence claims against it, the District Court said that Seale sufficiently alleged plausible claims. In order to prove a negligence claim in Florida, an injured person must show that the party being sued (defendant) owed him or her a "duty of reasonable care" which the defendant breached and that the breach was the "actual and proximate cause" of the person's injury. "Where a defendant's conduct creates a foreseeable zone of risk, the law generally will recognize a duty placed upon defendant either to lessen the risk or see that sufficient precautions are taken to protect others from the harm that the risk poses," the court explained.