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Law Updates

South Florida Judicial Panel Takes Away the Right to a Jury Trial From Man Injured on the Job

signing a contract

In a decision issued by three judges in a case on appeal, the Fourth District, which presides over all people who live in Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties, ruled an injured man could not bring a negligence lawsuit against a facility for negligent maintenance of stairs because there was an “exculpatory clause” in his employment agreement.

An “exculpatory clause” is a waiver of rights. In this case, in order to obtain employment, the injured person signed an employment agreement that stated he could not sue the negligent person because his employment contract waived his right to recover for damages due to failure to use reasonable care to maintain stairs.

The contract was not between the employee and the person who was allegedly negligent. Even so, the Judges ruled the injured employee “was not coerced into signing the agreement and voluntarily agreed, as a condition of employment, to limit his avenues for recovery with respect to any future injuries”.

Under this decision, an employee must make a choice between employment and a waiver of legal rights.

NOTE

A person seeking a job should NOT sign an employment contract that has a waiver of your rights. You can simply cross out the waiver before you sign. Unfortunately, in South Florida, because of this decision, this could mean you have to choose between waiving your rights or getting a job.

If you have questions, contact GloriaLaw at 772-675-0195.

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