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Pillay v. Public Storage, Inc.

Florida Court of Appeals, Fourth District

November 13, 2019

VIGNARAJ MUNSAMI PILLAY, Appellant,
v.
PUBLIC STORAGE, INC., Appellee.

         Not final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court for the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit, Broward County; David A. Haimes, Judge; L.T. Case No. 18-4261(08).

          Vignaraj Munsami Pillay, N. Fort Myers, pro se.

          Cindy J. Mishcon and Kevin M. Vannatta of Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, Fort Lauderdale, for appellee.

          Forst, J.

         In this caveat emptor case, Appellant Vignaraj Pillay appeals from the final order of dismissal with prejudice. Pillay's third amended complaint alleged two counts of gross negligence and three counts of breach of contract. We affirm the dismissal, addressing Pillay's "gross negligence" claims in this opinion.

         Background

         In 2000, Pillay entered into a written storage unit rental agreement with Appellee Public Storage. The rental agreement required monthly payments. Soon after entering into the rental agreement, Pillay moved to Maryland and remained there until November 2015. During this time, Pillay alleges that he used two rented units to store personal property valued in excess of $100, 000. Pillay further alleges that he received three separate phone calls from Public Storage between 2005 and 2012 informing him that his storage units had been burglarized, with several items left outside of the unit.

         Pillay returned to his units on December 7, 2015. He claims they were in a state of disrepair, with pieces of the ceiling having dropped onto his furniture and paintings. He also noticed several "high value" items were either missing or damaged. Pillay met with a new facility manager to gather information on what caused the damage to his property. The manager purportedly refused to cooperate with Pillay. Nonetheless, Pillay entered into a new lease with Public Storage and moved his items into a smaller unit just a few feet away.

         On February 23, 2018, Pillay filed suit against Public Storage. The trial court dismissed the original complaint without prejudice for failure to state a claim. The first and second amended complaints met similar fates. Pillay then filed a third amended complaint, which alleged two claims of gross negligence, three claims of breach of contract, and one claim of breach of the implied covenant of good faith.[1] Public Storage responded with a motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted with prejudice. This appeal followed.

         Analysis

         Orders granting motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim are reviewed de novo. Regis Ins. Co. v. Miami Mgmt., Inc., 902 So.2d 966, 968 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005).

         Pillay's claims for gross negligence boil down to an alleged failure by Public Storage to safeguard his storage unit, as well as an alleged failure to monitor the condition of the unit and to make repairs when the unit became damaged.

         A. Public Storage's Failure to Safeguard ...


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