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Florida Court of Appeals Upholds Trial Court’s Order Compelling Target to Produce Video Surveillance Footage in Slip-and-Fall Case – Target Corp. v. Vogel, 41 So. 3d 962 (Fla. 4th DCA 2011)

Our personal injury attorneys are finding the use of video surveillance as evidence in civil personal injury suit has gained more prominence as more sophisticated and easily-concealable video surveillance technologies become available. Ensuring the availability of this evidence is of particular importance in certain injury cases such as slip-and-fall claims inside commercial establishments where such video surveillance is regularly employed. For plaintiffs, in-store videos can become a crucial source of evidence for proving that the defendant’s negligence in maintaining the premises caused injuries and damages. Defendants must produce video surveillance footage and cannot unreasonably withhold such evidence.

One case illustrates this point well. In Target Corp. v. Vogel, the plaintiff, filed an injury suit against the company for a slip-and-fall accident she suffered in one of its Florida stores. During discovery, the plaintiff requested Target to produce a security video that showed the slip-and-fall taking place. Target refused to provide the footage, and therefore, the plaintiff filed a motion with the trial court to compel production. During a hearing on the motion, Target maintained that it was allowed to require the plaintiff’s deposition first before production of the video. Target claimed that the plaintiff did not portray the accident accurately in her medical records, which indicated that she told the doctor she fell on her back. However, Target argued that the video surveillance refuted this account. In response, the plaintiff argued that she should be allowed to use the video surveillance footage to refresh her recollection of events. The trial court ordered Target to produce the video. Target appealed.

Target relies on another case, Dodson v. Persell, in its contention against producing the video before the being allowed to depose the plaintiff. In Dodson, the plaintiff was injured in a vehicle accident with the defendant and sued for damages. During discovery, the plaintiff asked the defendant to disclose any video surveillance that it possessed. The defendant objected, claiming that the video footage was privileged work product and therefore not discoverable. The defendant argued that the plaintiff, if permitted to view the footage, would make his testimony fit the video to avoid inconsistencies and, therefore, negate the use of the footage as a means of preventing overstated claims. However, the plaintiff contended that if the disclosure of the footage before trial is not permitted, then he would not have the means to challenge or prepare evidence to rebut the contents of the video. The court of appeals, in that case, allowed discovery but also permitted the defendant to depose the plaintiff after the defendant created the surveillance videos but producing their contents.

In Target’s case, however, the court differentiated Dodson in that the defendant created the surveillance video after the accident by a private investigator, which qualified it as privileged work product. Here, the video was not taken after the accident but is a video of the accident itself. The court stated that the video of the slip-and-fall was not created to aid the defendant in the case. The court would not satisfy the same goal of preventing overstated claims by requiring the plaintiff to be deposed before Target’s production of the video. Therefore, the appeals court affirmed the trial court’s order compelling production of the video.

If you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident in a commercial establishment, the Miami Personal Injury Lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano offer the assistance you need to obtain the results you desire.  With over 130 collective years of experience representing personal injury victims across South Florida, our firm provides legal representation of unmatched excellence.  Contact our firm as soon as possible to start on the road to protecting your legal rights.  Our firm received an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and was ranked as a top firm in South Florida by the Miami Herald.   Put our exceptional personal injury attorneys to work on your case.  Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or you can visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.

 

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