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A bit of mystery surrounds a lawsuit filed by construction worker Robert Howard against Disney, MLC Theming, and Total Demolition Services. Howard alleges that dangerous conditions at his worksite located within Disney World's Animal Kingdom created an unsafe work site, which caused him to sustain an injury when a ditch he was digging collapsed on him.
What's odd is that the lawsuit provides no details about the injury other than the date, March 11, 2016. Neither Disney, Total Demolition Services, nor MLC reported any incidents around that time to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), though admittedly only work-related fatalities or hospitalizations are required to be reported to OSHA. Total Demolition Services has been listed inactive since 2017. Howard is seeking more than $15,000 in damages, but his attorney claims Howard filed the lawsuit to find out what happened so that history doesn't repeat itself.
Interestingly, Florida law insulates its employers from liability related to many on-the-job injuries. State workers' compensation laws preclude injured workers from suing employers directly. The public policy behind this is predictability. Tort lawsuit awards are very unpredictable, while workers' compensation for injuries is handled through insurance claims, which even-out the financial blow across the client base. However, this law will not shield employers from gross negligence or conduct "substantially certain" to result in injury or death.
It is unclear who Howard's employer actually was at the time. All that is knows is that it was not Disney. Very few OSHA complaints have been filed against Walt Disney World. And even fewer dangerous conditions suits, other than the infamous alligator that killed the toddler boy in 2016. To prevail in a premises liability action, Howard will have to prove that the defendant had a legal responsibility to maintain the property without hazards, and failed to do this, resulting in his injury. Courts will expect that Howard assumed some risk, given that he had accepted employment working in this ditch. And given Florida law, the hazard in this claim must have been substantially certain to result in injury or death.
If you or someone you love has been injured on someone else's property, contact a local personal injury attorney. An experienced lawyer can best compare the facts of your case with local laws to determine if you may be able to get compensated for your injuries, often at no cost to you.
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