On October 1, 2010, the Second District Court of Appeal issued an important and instructive opinion on the pleading requirements for asserting a claim for breach of non-delegable duties. Gunn Law Group and Gunn Appellate Practice successfully convinced the Second District Court of Appeal that the trial court erred by refusing to permit the plaintiff to amend his complaint to plead the breach of non-delegable duties and by thereafter granting summary judgment in the defendant's favor. In this case involving a slip and fall and the non-delegable duty of a premises owner, Judge Wallace authored a comprehensive and academic 22-page opinion with three principal and salient points: First, the non-delegable duty doctrine is applied to certain classes of duty and is not a separate and distinct claim that must be pleaded in a separate count. Second, under the facts of this case, the claim that the premises owner breached its non-delegable duties arose out of the same underlying facts and circumstances as the negligence at issue and, therefore, related-back for statute of limitations purposes. Importantly, the Court further held that amendment to assert a claim for breach of non-delegable duties was not necessary in this case in the first place because the pleading at issue alleged all of the elements necessary to plead a cause of action for the breach of non-delegable duties, notwithstanding the fact that the talismanic words "non-delegable duty" were not in the complaint. Third, the Court explained the nature of liability arising from a non-delegable duty, and clarified how that liability differs from vicarious liability.
The Court's opinion can be accessed at: