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Florida Second DCA rules that trial court failed to create adequate record to permit plaintiff’s amendment of nursing home negligence complaint to include punitive damages claim

On October 14, 2020, in East Bay NC, LLC, et al, v. Reddish, No. 2D19-4351, the Florida Second DCA quashed a trial court order granting the plaintiff in a nursing home negligence case leave to amend her complaint to include a punitive damages claim.  The Second DCA stated that although the trial court conducted a hearing as required by Fla. Stat. § 400.0237(1)(b), it did not mention on the record in the hearing the admissible evidence supporting a claim for punitive damages and its order granting the motion did not cite the correct statutory standard of proof or identify any admissible evidence considered to constitute a "reasonable basis" for the recovery of punitive damages. As a result, the Second DCA concluded that the trial court failed to ensure that based on sufficient admissible evidence, there was a reasonable basis to believe that the plaintiff will be able to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence at trial that the recovery of punitive damages is warranted against the nursing home defendants under a claim for either direct or vicarious liability.  The Court cited in support Carpenters Home Estates, Inc. v. Sanders, 286 So. 3d 830, 832 (Fla. 2d DCA 2019).