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Westervelt v. Thyssenkrupp Elevator Corp.

Florida Court of Appeal, Fourth District

November 2, 2011

Jane WESTERVELT, Appellant,
v.
THYSSENKRUPP ELEVATOR CORPORATION and Toscana North Condominium Association, Inc., Appellees.

Rehearing Denied Jan. 12, 2012.

Page 11

Amy D. Shield of Amy D. Shield, P.A., and Glick Law Firm, P.A., Boca Raton, for appellant.

Susan S. Lerner of Josephs Jack, Miami, for appellee Toscana North Condominium Association, Inc.

Richard P. Hermann and Jeannine C. Jacobson of Sedgwick Detert Moran & Arnold, L.L.P., Fort Lauderdale, and Helen Ann Hauser of Restani, Dittmar & Hauser, P.A., Coral Gables, for appellee Thyssenkrupp Elevator Corporation.

TOWBIN SINGER, MICHELE, Associate Judge.

In this case we consider whether the trial court erred in directing a verdict against the plaintiff, Jane Westervelt (" Westervelt" ), as to her negligence claims against Thyssenkrupp Elevator Corporation (" Thyssenkrupp" ) and Toscana North Condominium Association, Inc. (" Toscana" ). Westervelt appeals the directed verdict in favor of Thyssenkrupp and Toscana. Because Westervelt presented evidence to support her claims as to whether Thyssenkrupp and/or Toscana were negligently responsible for Westervelt's injuries, we reverse.

Westervelt worked as a concierge at a Toscana condominium building. Westervelt was injured as a result of riding in a condominium elevator, which suddenly stopped while traveling from an upper floor to the lobby. Toscana had hired Thyssenkrupp to maintain and repair the condominium elevators. Following Westervelt's injuries, she filed a complaint alleging various counts of negligence against Thyssenkrupp and Toscana.

" The standard of review of a trial court's ruling on a motion for directed verdict is de novo. " Borda v. E. Coast Entm't, Inc., 950 So.2d 488, 490 (Fla. 4th DCA 2007).

The power to direct a verdict should be exercised with caution, and it should never be granted unless the evidence is of such a nature that under no view which the jury might lawfully take of it, favorable to the adverse party, could a verdict for the latter be upheld. The movant admits every reasonable inference that a jury might fairly and reasonably arrive at favorable to the adverse party.

Id. (quoting Little v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc., 234 So.2d 132, 133 (Fla. 4th DCA 1970)). In Pascale v. Federal Express Corp., 656 So.2d 1351 (Fla. 4th DCA 1995), this court further held:

In negligence cases, a motion for directed verdict should be treated with special caution because it is the function of the jury to weigh and evaluate the evidence. Upon a directed verdict motion,

Page 12

the weight of the evidence and all reasonable inferences therefrom must be viewed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Thus, a trial court should direct a verdict against the plaintiff only if there is no evidence, or reasonable inferences therefrom, upon which a jury may find for the nonmoving party. Accordingly, if there is conflicting evidence if ...

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