A NYC eighteen-year old resident of an apartment building was walking along the grounds of the apartment building in Florida when he met an accident. He lay on the concrete pavement, unable to move because of a spinal injury. A few minutes later, an employee of the apartment owner was making his rounds of the apartment. He saw the eighteen- year old sprawled on the pavement and thought that he was unconscious due to a drug overdose or because he was drunk. He shook the eighteen-year old and found him to be conscious. The employee told him that he will move him to a more lighted area so that he can help him. The eighteen-year old protested, asking the employee not to touch him or to move him as his spine may be broken. The eighteen-year old protested continuously but the employee did not heed his protests, he dragged the eighteen-year old near the entrance of the building. He then called emergency services who rushed the eighteen-year old to the hospital. When the police and emergency services arrived, the employee told the police that he moved the eighteen year old because he thought that he was just passed out because he was drunk or overdosed from drugs. He had no idea he was injured. The incident resulted in the eighteen-year old being disabled due to quadriplegia or paralyzed from the neck down.
The eighteen-year old then sued the Westchester apartment owner and his insurer. He did not include in the suit the employee of the apartment owner. He wanted to call him as an adverse witness because the employee made inconsistent statements before the police (at the time of the incident) and then when he was deposed (before the trial) which testimonies and statements totally contradicted his testimony at trial. The trial court refused the eighteen year old’s request to call the employee as an adverse witness. The trial court held that there was a question as to whether the employee was really employed by the apartment owner; the trial court also held that the employee could not be called as an adverse witness because he was not a party to the case or listed as a party defendant in the damage suit.
The apartment owner and the insurer based their defense on the Good Samaritan Act. They claim that the employee was immune from a suit in damages because he was only trying to help. Under Florida Law, bystanders who help those who were injured cannot be sued for damages if the person they aided suffered injury in the course of being rescued or aided. They also claimed that even if they were found to be liable the amount of lost earning capacity of the eighteen year old cannot be determined because the eighteen-year old was a career criminal who had no real job or job prospects as he dealt in drugs and petit larceny.