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Brannock Berman & Seider Defeats Certiorari Bid

In an unelaborated order, the Second District Court of Appeal soundly rejected an attempt by Carrabba’s Italian Grill and its parent company to prevent a personal-injury lawsuit from going to trial.

The case arises from a tragic incident in 2019 at a Tampa-area Carrabba’s restaurant. The plaintiff was eating dinner when a ceiling tile fell, struck her on the head, and caused her severe injuries. Come to find out, the restaurant’s roof had been leaking for months, causing water to collect in the part of the ceiling above her table. The ceiling tiles were discolored, moldy, and so heavy with water that they finally gave out.

On the eve of trial, and after years of litigation, Carrabba’s and its codefendants sought leave to file a third-party complaint against the roofers who, the defense said, were the true cause of the accident. The trial court granted the request and reset the trial. But as the new date approached, and it was obvious the third-party claims were not yet ready, the plaintiff moved to bifurcate trial and sever the third-party claims from her original lawsuit. When the trial court agreed, the defendants petitioned the Second District for a writ of certiorari, arguing that they would be prejudiced by going to trial. Brannock Berman & Seider responded to the petition on the plaintiff’s behalf, identifying many alternative reasons why the appellate court should deny it. The court sided with Brannock Berman & Seider’s arguments, thus allowing the plaintiff’s case to go to trial without waiting on the third-party claims.