McIntosh v. Progressive Design and Engineering, Inc., ___ So. 3d ___, 40 Fla. L. Weekly D723 (Fla. 4th DCA March 25, 2015)
The plaintiff’s father died in an intersectional collision because of a confusing traffic signaling system. The jury found that the traffic signal designer was negligent but that the defect was patent and FDOT had accepted the work. As a result, judgment was entered for the designer under the doctrine of Slavin v. Kaye,108 So. 2d 462 (Fla. 1959), which holds that “a contractor is not liable for patent defects after acceptance of a construction project by the owner.” The appellate court affirmed. The trial court properly submitted to the jury the issues of the patency of the defect and acceptance of the work, and the verdict was supported by competent substantial evidence. “As between the parties to this construction project, FDOT was the entity to whom the design company owed its duty, because it controlled ‘acceptance’ of the design company’s work. In turn, Broward County controlled acceptance of FDOT’s work. At each step along the timeline, the party in control bore the burden of correcting patent defects because its control prevented anyone else from doing so.” “Slavin is necessary to place the burden of responsibility upon the entity that controls the environment.”
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