Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal has denied an attempt to expand a security company’s liability despite its contract’s express limitations, affirming a summary judgment in based on events that occurred in the lobby of a Coral Gables hospital.  The decision, styled as Glickman v. Kindred Hospitals East, LLC, — So. 3d —-, 2021 WL 42113 (Fla. 3d DCA Jan. 6, 2021), not final until released for publication, arose from a civil suit following a a visitor’s shooting of another visitor in a hospital lobby.  A visitor had signed in to visit a patient, waited in the lobby for another friend to arrive, and when she did, he shot her and then fatally shot himself.  The surviving victim sued, among several other defendants, the Hospital’s security company, which had contracted to provide security to the hospital and its employees, but its contract did not extend to protecting visitors.  The appellate court found no issue of material fact and affirmed the summary judgment in the security company’s favor.

Of note is the plaintiffs’ argument that the security company’s contract should have been read to imply greater services despite the contract’s limiting language, based on the company’s official’s deposition testimony agreeing that “the purpose of security officers was to ‘promote’ the safety of patients, visitors, and employees.”  Id. at *3.  The appellate court rejected this argument, finding that an official’s agreement with a basic premise—that the purpose of security officers is to promote safety—did not constitute evidence that to impute an expansion of liability outside the provisions in the security company’s contract.  Id.

The holding in Glickman is an important rejection of an increasingly common strategy to attempt to expand liability for actions occurring at healthcare facilities simply because a witness agrees with the simple principle that patient and visitor safety is an overall goal.  In contrast, there must be concrete evidence of liability to present to a reasonable jury.  The full opinion is available here.

Written by Gavrila Brotz