FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
from the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County; Robert A.
Foster, Jr., Judge.
Rolando J. Santiago and Gregory S. Grossman of RJS Law Group,
Apollo Beach, for Appellant.
S. Leininger of Williams, Leininger & Cosby, P.A., North
Palm Beach, for Appellee John Beach & Associates, Inc.
appearance for remaining Appellee.
Heredia appeals the circuit court's entry of a final
summary judgment in favor of John Beach & Associates,
Inc. (JBA) and Michael Gross, the defendants below. The
circuit court was apparently persuaded that the
plaintiff's negligence claim was one between two
subcontractors in horizontal privity under the Workers
Compensation Law, §§ 440.01-60, Fla. Stat. (2017),
and that, as such, the defendants were entitled to workers
compensation immunity from the plaintiff's claim. Because
the record does not support that determination, we reverse
the circuit court's judgment.
2015, Lennar Homes, LLC (Lennar) was developing a tract of
land it owned in Riverview into a residential community known
as Oaks at Shady Creek. Although the record is somewhat
sparse as to what were Lennar's precise plans for this
property, it is undisputed that Lennar was, at all times
relevant, the fee simple owner of Oaks at Shady Creek. That
is, Lennar was developing Lennar's own property, not
the record before us, it appears that Mr. Heredia was an
employee of QGS Development, Inc. (QGS), a company that
Lennar had hired to perform road work in the Oaks at Shady
Creek subdivision. On April 22, 2015, Mr. Heredia was working
at the site, cleaning dirt from a road. Mr. Gross, an
employee of JBA, was working in the same vicinity as Mr.
Heredia. JBA had been retained by Lennar to provide surveying
work for the Oaks at Shady Creek development.
Heredia alleges that Mr. Gross drove his JBA truck
negligently by backing it into him. He filed a complaint
against JBA and Mr. Gross in the Hillsborough County Circuit
Court. JBA and Mr. Gross generally denied the complaint's
allegations and, pertinent here, asserted the affirmative
defense that Mr. Heredia's negligence claims were barred
under the Worker's Compensation Law.
parties engaged in discovery and eventually filed competing
motions for summary judgment on the issue of worker's
compensation immunity. In the defendants' motion, JBA and
Mr. Gross argued that QGS and JBA were both subcontractors of
Lennar for the Oaks at Shady Creek development. Further, JBA
and Mr. Gross maintained that QGS, JBA, and Lennar had
workers compensation insurance coverage for this
project-QGS' policy provided coverage for its employees;
JBA's policy covered JBA's employees; and
Lennar's policy extended coverage that "would have
provided coverage to the Plaintiff." As such, the
defendants argued, there was horizontal privity between the
subcontractors, JBA and QGS, so that JBA and Mr. Gross were
immune from civil liability for QGS' employee's
Heredia's motion for summary judgment argued otherwise.
He pointed out that the applicable subsection of the Workers
Compensation Law, section 440.10(b), only creates horizontal
privity when "a contractor sublets any part or parts of
his or her contract work to a subcontractor or
subcontractors." Because Lennar was developing the Oaks
at Shady Creek project for itself as the owner, and not under
a contract Lennar had with any third party, Lennar could not
be considered a "contractor" that was
"subletting" work under this section. Accordingly,
he argued, neither JBA nor Mr. Gross were immune from civil
liability as a matter of law.
circuit court agreed with the defendants. In an unelaborated
order, it granted JBA and Mr. Gross' motion for summary
judgment. In a separate and equally sparse order, the court
denied Mr. Heredia's competing motion for summary
judgment. Those rulings became final in the circuit
court's amended final judgment against Mr. Heredia, which
was entered on September 14, 2018. Like the summary judgment
orders that preceded it, the circuit court's amended
final judgment contained no findings or any legal analysis.
Mr. Heredia now appeals that judgment.
We review a circuit court's entry of summary judgment
under a de novo standard of review. Herendeen v.
Mandelbaum, 232 So.3d 487, 489 (Fla. 2d DCA 2017)
(citing Volusia County v. Aberdeen at Ormond Beach,
L.P., 760 So.2d 126, 130 (Fla. 2000)). A party is
entitled to summary judgment only "if the pleadings and
summary judgment evidence on file show that there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact and that ...