Chris Hill and Andy Showen secured a judgment of dismissal at the close of plaintiff’s case in a Federal court trial in Orlando in December 2015. The court taxed defense costs against the plaintiff of over $17,000 in post-trial proceedings, which the plaintiff then paid to HRKM’s client’s insurer.
The plaintiff, a developer, had purchased land near the SR 429 expressway, where HRKM’s client had performed construction work, and contracted with the developer to use a well and remove fill dirt. A late night fire of unknown original burned down an abandoned agricultural warehouse on the property. The plaintiff alleged HRKM’s client was negligent in removing a fence near property. The plaintiff also alleged the parking of construction equipment on the property created an attractive nuisance, and the contract required the builder to indemnify the developer.
The court entered summary judgment before trial on the attractive nuisance claim. The court also entered partial summary judgment against the indemnity claim, finding that the indemnity from “claims” did not require the builder to indemnify from a fire, when no third party presented a claim against the developer.
At the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case, Hill and Showen presented an unusual Rule 52(c) motion for dismissal. The court granted the motion, holding that the builder’s right to enter the property to obtain water and fill dirt did not give it sufficient control of the property to impose a duty to protect the developer from actions of intruders.
The insurer defending the builder recovered defense costs of over $17,000, paid by the plaintiff.