final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
Appeal from the Circuit Court for Miami-Dade County, Samantha
Ruiz-Cohen, Judge. Lower Tribunal No. 15-24843
Simberg, and Hinda Klein (Hollywood), for appellant.
Fischer Redavid PLLC, and Jordan Redavid, for appellee.
ROTHENBERG, C.J., and SALTER and SCALES, JJ.
Softball Promotions, Inc. ("CSP") appeals the trial
court's entry of an order denying its post-trial motion
for a directed verdict or a new trial, which was entered
after Yasser Ayub ("Ayub") prevailed in a jury
trial. For the reasons that follow, we find that the trial
court erred by denying CSP's motion for a directed
verdict, and therefore, we reverse and remand with
instructions to the trial court to enter a directed verdict
in CSP's favor.
a member of a softball team that participated in a softball
tournament that was run by CSP at a public park that is owned
by Miami-Dade County. CSP paid Miami-Dade County for the
right to use several softball fields, but there are common
areas open to the public outside of the rented fields and
dugouts. On the morning on the day of the tournament,
Ayub's team had a heated altercation with another team
during a softball game, and the umpire declared that both
teams forfeited the game as a result. Later that evening,
another fight broke out between members of the two teams in a
common area of the park, outside of the rented softball
fields and dugouts. Ayub was injured during this second
altercation while allegedly attempting to keep the other
players from fighting. The fight ultimately ended after the
filed a premises liability cause of action against CSP,
alleging that CSP had a duty to keep its business invitees
safe and that CSP breached this duty by failing to provide
adequate security during the softball tournament. During the
proceedings before the trial court, CSP repeatedly raised the
argument that it had no duty to provide security in the
common area of the public park where the fight occurred
because CSP did not have any control over that area. After
hearing the arguments and evidence at trial, the jury
returned a verdict in favor of Ayub and against CSP in the
amount of $319, 914.71, and the trial court entered a final
judgment. Thereafter, CSP filed a renewed motion for a
directed verdict and a new trial, reiterating that Ayub
failed to establish that CSP controlled the premises on which
Ayub was injured, and thus, CSP owed no legal duty to
Ayub. The trial court denied the motion, and
this appeal followed.
review a trial court's ruling on a motion for a directed
verdict de novo, and we must evaluate the evidence in the
light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Fasani v.
Kowalski, 43 So.3d 805, 812 (Fla. 3d DCA 2010);
Posner v. Walker, 930 So.2d 659, 665 (Fla. 3d DCA
2006). Whether a legal duty exists is a question of law
subject to the de novo standard of review. Weber ex rel.
Estate of Weber v. Marino Parking Sys., Inc., 100 So.3d
729, 730 (Fla. 2d DCA 2012); R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v.
Grossman ex rel. Estate of Grossman, 96 So.3d 917, 920
(Fla. 4th DCA 2012).
security cases, such as this one, fall under the auspices of
premises liability. See Nicholson v. Stonybrook
Apartments, LLC, 154 So.3d 490, 493-94 (Fla. 4th DCA
2015). The legal duty to protect invitees from injuries
caused by third parties is tied to the defendant's
control over the premises where the injury occurred.
Brown v. Suncharm Ranch, Inc., 748 So.2d 1077, 1078
(Fla. 5th DCA 1999). Therefore, generally, if the plaintiff
cannot demonstrate that the defendant controlled the premises
where the plaintiff was injured, then the defendant cannot be
liable for failing to protect the plaintiff from third-party
misconduct. Publix Super Markets, Inc. v. Jeffery,
650 So.2d 122, 124 (Fla. 3d DCA 1995) (holding that Publix,
as lessee of a store in a shopping center, had no duty to
protect its invitees from third-party criminal assaults in
the adjoining parking lot because Publix was not responsible
for and did not control the parking lot); see also Daly
v. Denny's, Inc., 694 So.2d 775, 777 (Fla. 4th DCA
1997) ("[T]he duty to protect strangers against the
tortious conduct of another can arise if, at the time of the
injury, the defendant is in actual or constructive control
of: 1. the instrumentality; 2. the premises on which the tort
was committed; or 3. the tort-feasor.").
over the premises is demonstrated where the defendant is
shown to have the right to control access to the property.
Brown, 748 So.2d at 1078 ("The duty to protect
others from injury resulting from a dangerous condition on a
premises rests on the party who has the right to control
access by third parties to the premises, be it the owner, an
agent, or a lessee of the property."); Welch v.
Complete Care Corp., 818 So.2d 645, 649 (Fla. 2d DCA
2002) ("The duty to protect others from ...