final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County Lower
Tribunal No. 10-63439, Migna Sanchez-Llorens, Judge.
Serota, Helfman, Cole & Bierman, P.L., Edward G. Guedes
and Anne Reilly, for appellant.
Shmuely & Willis, P.A., and Rami Shmuely; Robert L.
Switkes & Associates, P.A., and Robert L. Switkes;
Podhurst Orseck, P.A., and Stephen F. Rosenthal; Michael
Higer, P.A., and Michael J. Higer, for appellee.
ROTHENBERG, C.J., and SALTER and FERNANDEZ, JJ.
Super Markets, Inc. appeals the trial court's final
judgment entered in favor of the plaintiff below, Jessie
Bellaiche, denying Publix's three post-trial motions for
relief. Under the record before us, Publix was entitled to a
directed verdict, as there was no evidence establishing
either actual knowledge of the dangerous condition or that a
Publix employee caused the dangerous condition. Accordingly,
August 11, 2010, Bellaiche, a 70-year-old woman, was shopping
at a Publix store with her husband, John Basilone. After
arriving at a checkout station, Bellaiche realized that she
had forgotten to put a couple of items that she wanted in her
shopping cart. Basilone then went to retrieve those items
from the appropriate aisle but also decided to pick up a few
other things and order a sandwich from the deli. When
Basilone returned to the checkout station, Bellaiche was
sitting in a chair, crying. Basilone testified that when he
came back, he "saw a man with a mop in his hand, "
but testified that he did not know what the man was doing.
after, Basilone learned that after he left to go get the
forgotten items, Bellaiche left her cart next to the cashier
and started walking up a nearby aisle, aisle 17, to find her
husband because he "was taking some time" to
return. While walking up the aisle, Bellaiche slipped and
fell on some water, which she did not see on the floor
beforehand. Bellaiche asserts that after falling, she
subsequently "saw a Publix employee with a mop in his
hand." No one testified that this mop was wet or that
the employee had been using it, either in aisle 17 or
anywhere else within the store. Furthermore, at the time of
Bellaiche's fall, Publix's store manager, Paul
Fournier, testified that Publix utilized dry rayon mops to
mop its floors, not pre-soaked cotton mops that could create
puddles of water. Fournier also testified that the only
custodian on duty at the time of the incident whose duty was
to mop was Saint Gerard Thervil, and video surveillance shows
that Thervil had only been using a broom and dustpan before
result of the incident, Bellaiche suffered a shoulder injury,
which she underwent surgery for about one month later on
September 8, 2010. Bellaiche's surgeon and physician, Dr.
Leonard Remia, concluded that the surgery went well and that
Bellaiche was making good progress afterward. Bellaiche was
even able to fly to Paris more than once after the procedure
was conducted. By October 2010, Bellaiche's pain had
already diminished to zero to two on the pain scale,
indicating little to no pain at all, even though she had
suffered another fall unrelated to the initial one at issue
here. Despite having been advised to attend physical therapy,
as of February 28, 2011, Bellaiche had not done so. Three
years after Dr. Remia treated Bellaiche, in May 2014,
Bellaiche went to Dr. Gus Leotta, III, who noted that
Bellaiche had a constrained range of motion and was hurting.
However, Bellaiche did not show up to the CT scan and second
visit that Dr. Leotta scheduled for her, and she never went
back to Dr. Leotta. Dr. Leotta could not determine whether
Bellaiche's increased pain was due to her subsequent fall
or her fall at Publix.
the conclusion of trial, which was conducted more than five
years after Bellaiche's fall, the jury returned a verdict
for Bellaiche and awarded her over $1.5 million in damages,
accounting for Bellaiche's past medical expenses leading
up to trial ($60, 356.22), non-economic damages from the date
of her accident to the end of trial ($500, 000), and future
pain and suffering ($1, 000, 000). Bellaiche's future
life expectancy at the time was 12.9 years. After trial,
Publix filed post-trial motions for a directed verdict, new
trial, and remittitur, all of which the trial court denied.
standard of review for a denial of a directed verdict is de
novo, and the court must look at all evidence in a light most
favorable to the non-movant. Marriott Int'l, Inc. v.
Am. Bridge Bah., Ltd., 193 So.3d 902, 905 (Fla. 3d DCA
2015). The standard of review for both denial of a motion for
new trial and a motion for remittitur is abuse of discretion.
Maggolc, Inc. v. Roberson, 116 So.3d 556, 558 (Fla.
3d DCA 2013); Montesinos v. Zapata, 43 So.3d 97, 98
(Fla. 3d DCA 2010).
appeal, Publix claims that the trial court erred in denying
its motion for directed verdict because sufficient evidence
did not exist demonstrating that Publix had actual knowledge
of the dangerous condition that prompted Bellaiche's fall
or that one of its employees caused the condition that
resulted in the fall. In deciding how to rule on a motion for
directed verdict, the court must determine if any reasonable
evidence exists to support a jury verdict in favor of the
non-movant. Tylinski v. Klein Auto. Inc., 90 So.3d
870, 873 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012).
to section 768.0755, Florida Statutes, Bellaiche was required
to prove that Publix had actual or constructive knowledge of
a dangerous condition created by a transient foreign
substance that caused Bellaiche to slip and fall.
Encarnacion v. Lifemark Hosps. of Fla., 211 So.3d
275 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017); § 768.0755, Fla. Stat. (2010).
However, at trial, in her response to Publix's motion for
directed verdict, and during closing, Bellaiche stated that
she was not proceeding under a theory of constructive
knowledge of the dangerous condition, but under a theory of
actual knowledge because she alleged "the man standing
with the mop" caused the water to be on the floor in
aisle 17. However, her testimony was that, after she fell,
she saw a man holding a mop and that he was standing there,
nothing more. A jury may not stack inferences to determine
that a party had actual knowledge of a dangerous condition,
nor is the mere possibility of causation sufficient to
establish liability. Montgomery v. Fla. Jitney Jungle
Stores, Inc., 281 So.2d 302, 305-06 (Fla. 1973); 50
State Sec. ...