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Florida Second DCA reverses trial’s court’s directed verdict for defendant in premises liability case involving sickened restaurant customer, ruling that plaintiff’s medical expert did not engage in impermissible inference stacking

On May 5, 2021, in Martinez v. Lobster Haven, LLC, No. 2D19-2399, the Florida Second DCA reversed a trial court’s order granting the defendant restaurant operator a directed verdict in a personal injury lawsuit filed a restaurant patron who became ill after a seafood dinner. The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff, but the trial court concluded that that the defendant was entitled to a directed verdict based on what the trial court considered to be impermissible inference stacking by the plaintiff’s medical expert, who had opined that that the food consumed by the plaintiff caused her subsequent GI infection, which in turn triggered Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). The Second DCA concluded otherwise, noting that the defendant had stipulated prior to trial that the defective food served by the defendant caused the GI infection, leaving only the issue of whether the GI infection caused the GBS, an issue on which the expert properly opined (the Court noted that the defendant had failed to raise a Daubert objection to the expert’s testimony).

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