TRIAL COURT DEPARTED FROM ESSENTIAL REQUIREMENTS OF LAW IN GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO AMEND FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN A NURSING HOME CASE.
East Bay NC, v. Reddish, 45 Fla. L Weekly D2334 (Fla. 2nd DCA October 14, 2020):
The plaintiff moved to amend to add a claim for punitive damages under §400.0237 in a nursing home case. The trial court’s order stated that plaintiff satisfied the standard for pleading a claim for punitive damages pursuant to §400.0237 and Rule 1.190(f).
§400.0237(1)(b) requires trial courts to conduct a hearing and determine whether the plaintiff has presented sufficient admissible evidence to ensure that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the claimant will be able to demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the recovery of punitive damages is warranted at trial. In making that determination, the trial court’s order must identify the admissible evidence proffered by the plaintiff, and/or articulate on the record how the evidence supports a reasonable basis by clear and convincing evidence that recovery of punitive damages is warranted.
In this case, while the trial court conducted a hearing, it did not mention the admissible evidence supporting the claim for punitive damages. Its order granting the motion also failed to cite the correct statutory standard of proof, and failed to identify any admissible evidence considered to constitute a “reasonable basis” for recovery of punitive damages under §400.0237(1)(b). These failings led the court to quash the amendment containing the claim for punitive damages.