FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF
Application for Review of the Decision of the District Court
of Appeal - Direct Conflict of Decisions Third District -
Case No. 3D16-959 (Miami-Dade County)
D. Rodman and Stephanie Vega Graves of Friedman, Rodman &
Frank, P.A., Miami, Florida; and Pamela Beckham and Robert J.
Beckham, Jr., of Beckham & Beckham, P.A., Miami, Florida,
Abigail Price-Williams, Miami-Dade County Attorney, and Joni
A. Mosely and Erica S. Zaron, Assistant County Attorneys,
Miami, Florida, for Respondent
Christopher Sanchez, brought a "negligent security"
claim against Respondent, Miami-Dade County (the County),
after being shot and injured at a birthday party hosted at
one of the County's public parks (the Park). He seeks
review of Sanchez v. Miami-Dade County, 245 So.3d
933, 934 (Fla. 3d DCA 2018), in which the Third District
Court of Appeal concluded that his claim was barred by
sovereign immunity. Sanchez explained that
Petitioner's claim was predicated on the County's
alleged failure to "allocat[e] off-duty police
officers" to the birthday party and that sovereign
immunity "protects [the County's] policy and
planning decisions about where to allocate its limited police
resources." Id. at 944. Recognizing that
sovereign immunity may bar an action even where a duty
exists, Sanchez reached its holding irrespective of
any duty owed to Petitioner by the County. See id.
at 943 n.4 ("[D]uty is not an issue here.").
Court granted jurisdiction on the ground that
Sanchez expressly and directly conflicts with the
Fourth District Court of Appeal's decision in City of
Belle Glade v. Woodson, 731 So.2d 797 (Fla. 4th DCA
1999), on the question of whether the existence of a duty
renders sovereign immunity inapplicable. See art. V,
§ 3(b)(3), Fla. Const. Woodson concluded that
sovereign immunity did not shield a city from a personal
injury and wrongful death suit in which the plaintiffs
alleged that the city "fail[ed] to provide adequate
security" for a dance that took place on the premises of
the city's civic center. Woodson, 731 So.2d at
797. Woodson specifically reasoned that sovereign
immunity was inapplicable because the city had "the same
common law duty as a private person to properly maintain and
operate the property." Id. at 798.
heard oral argument, we dismiss Petitioner's petition for
review and decline to reach the merits of Sanchez.
We do so for two reasons. First, the conflict issue
here-i.e., the merging of duty and sovereign immunity-has
already been resolved by this Court in opinions issued after
the Fourth District's decision in Woodson. Those
opinions make clear that duty and sovereign immunity are not
to be conflated. Second, Petitioner argues to this Court a
new theory of liability, and this Court is not a forum for
adjudicating matters that were not presented below. Before
more fully addressing these two reasons for dismissal, we
review the background of the case and the Third
District's decision below.
and another individual, Noel Pozos, were shot and injured at
the same party hosted at the Park. The Park contains a
shelter that the County rented to the party host for the
party. According to the Park's rental rules and
regulations, the party host-for what turned out to be the
size and nature of the party-was required to obtain a
broadcast permit from the County and hire off-duty police
officers. The party host instead hired private security
guards and did not obtain any permits. The only County
employee in attendance was a park service aide whose
responsibilities were largely to keep the area clean.
and Pozos filed separate negligent security suits against the
County alleging that the County "negligently failed to
allocate off-duty police officers as security to protect the
partygoers." Sanchez, 245 So.3d at 934. In both
cases, the County moved for summary judgment, arguing in
relevant part that the claim was barred by sovereign
Pozos's case, the trial court summarily denied the
County's summary judgment motion, the County appealed,
and the Third District dismissed the appeal as a
jurisdictional matter after determining that the trial
court's "unelaborated order" was "a
nonfinal, nonappealable order." Miami-Dade County v.
Pozos, 242 So.3d 1152, 1152-53 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017),
discretionary review proceeding stayed, No.
SC18-1118 (Fla. July 19, 2018). Judge Rothenberg dissented in
Pozos, arguing that the Third District had
jurisdiction and that sovereign immunity clearly barred the
claim because "the County's actions" involved
"a discretionary planning and/or policy decision . . .
regarding where and how to deploy its available manpower
(sworn police officers)." Id. at 1158, 1165-66
(Rothenberg, J., dissenting).
Petitioner's case, the trial court granted the
County's summary judgment motion, and the Third District
in Sanchez affirmed. Sanchez specifically
"agree[d] with and adopt[ed] the portion of Chief Judge
Rothenberg's Pozos dissent concluding under the
facts of this case that the county had sovereign
immunity." Sanchez, 245 So.3d at 934. The
Sanchez majority then separately addressed two
points raised by Judge Salter in his Sanchez
dissent, namely: (1) the nature of Petitioner's claim,
and (2) the applicability of Woodson.
Petitioner's claim, the Sanchez majority
rejected Judge Salter's conclusion that Petitioner
challenged "violations of the park employees'
operational duties to keep track of the number of
party-goers, verify security measures, and shut down parties
if they spiral out of control." Id. at 939.
After looking ...