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Lieupo v. Simon's Trucking, Inc.

Supreme Court of Florida

December 19, 2019

CHARLES L. LIEUPO, Petitioner,
v.
SIMON'S TRUCKING, INC., Respondent.

         NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED.

          Application for Review of the Decision of the District Court of Appeal - Certified Great Public Importance/Certified Direct Conflict of Decisions First District - Case No. 1D17-2065 (Hamilton County)

          Michael J. Damaso, II, and Jackson W. Adams of Wooten Kimbrough, P.A., Orlando, Florida; and Peter D. Webster of Carlton Fields, Tallahassee, Florida, for Petitioner

          Jason Gonzalez and Amber Stoner Nunnally of Shutts & Bowen, LLP, Tallahassee, Florida, for Respondent

          Kansas R. Gooden of Boyd & Jenerette, P.A., Jacksonville, Florida; and Andrew S. Bolin of Bolin Law Group, Tampa, Florida, Amicus Curiae Florida Defense Lawyers Association

          Frank A. Shepherd of Gray Robinson, Miami, Florida; and William W. Large of Florida Justice Reform Institute, Tallahassee, Florida, Amicus Curiae Florida Justice Reform Institute

          POLSTON, J.

         We review the decision of the First District Court of Appeal in Simon's Trucking, Inc. v. Lieupo, 244 So.3d 370, 374 (Fla. 1st DCA 2018), a case in which the First District certified the following question of great public importance:

DOES THE PRIVATE CAUSE OF ACTION CONTAINED IN SECTION 376.313(3), FLORIDA STATUTES, [of the 1983 Water Quality Assurance Act] PERMIT RECOVERY FOR PERSONAL INJURY?

         For the reasons explained below and receding from precedent as requested by Lieupo, we answer the certified question in the affirmative.[1]

         I. BACKGROUND

         The First District set forth the pertinent facts as follows:

Lieupo filed a complaint against Simon's Trucking, alleging it was strictly liable for injuries he suffered after one of its tractor-trailers was involved in an accident while transporting batteries, spilling battery acid onto the highway. Lieupo alleged he responded to the scene to tow away the truck and came into contact with the battery acid, which caused him serious personal injuries. He filed his complaint under section 376.313(3), Florida Statutes, [of the 1983 Water Quality Assurance Act] which imposes strict liability for the discharge of certain types of pollutants.
Simon's Trucking argued that Lieupo could not seek recovery under section 376.313(3) because that statute did not permit recovery for personal injury. The trial court rejected this argument, and the case proceeded to trial. The jury found the battery acid caused ...

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