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Seeing May Soon be Believing: The Possible Expansion of Summary Judgment in Florida with Respect to Dash Camera Footage

October 29, 2019

Many transportation companies use dash cameras for purposes of defending against actions for liability. However, recently in Lopez v. Wilsonart, LLC, 275 So. 3d 831 (Fla. 5th DCA 2019), eyewitness testimony and an expert affidavit were sufficient to defeat summary judgment even though they flatly contradicted the Freightliner’s dash camera footage. In doing so, the appellate court did certify an issue of the great public importance of whether unaltered video evidence should be a sufficient basis for summary judgment where the video evidence completely negates or refutes any conflicting evidence.

Recently, the Florida Supreme Court issued an order stating they will address, not only whether video evidence can render contradictory evidence incompetent at summary judgment, but whether the less stringent Federal summary judgment standard should be adopted in Florida. 

Florida’s current summary judgment standard requires that there be no genuine fact in order for a moving party to be entitled to summary judgment. It also requires there be not even the slightest doubt as to a genuine issue of material fact. The Federal summary judgment standard allows the Court to determine if the evidence presented would not lead a trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party when the record is taken as a whole. 

The implications of Florida adopting the less stringent Federal summary judgment are immense for transportation companies if they use dash cameras. Summary judgment for Defendants will be easier to obtain if dash camera footage sufficiently renders a Plaintiff’s evidence incompetent. The Supreme Court has not issued a ruling but perhaps seeing will soon be believed for purposes of summary judgment.