Harding v. Allen-Laux, Inc., ALLEN-LAU

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Citation559 So.2d 107
Docket NumberALLEN-LAU,INC,No. 89-01406,89-01406
Parties15 Fla. L. Weekly D907 Douglas A. HARDING and Janet E. Harding, his wife, Appellants, v., d/b/a Taylor Rental Center, Charles Hilyer, d/b/a Hilyer Sod Farms, and Alice Albritton, Appellees.
Decision Date04 April 1990

Kevin P. Bailey of Hill & Ponton, P.A., Orlando, for appellants.

Victoria H. Pflug and Claire L. Hamner of Dickinson, O'Riorden, Gibbons, Quale, Shields & Carlton, P.A., Sarasota, for appellees.


The plaintiffs, Mr. and Mrs. Harding, appeal a final summary judgment in favor of one defendant, Allen-Laux, Inc., d/b/a Taylor Rental Center. The summary judgment determined that Taylor Rental could not be liable under the dangerous instrumentality doctrine for injuries caused by a forklift which was owned by Taylor Rental and operated by a lessee's employee on a public highway. We reverse and hold that this forklift is a dangerous instrumentality under the facts of this case.

On October 8, 1986, Mr. Harding was driving his car when he was involved in a two-vehicle collision on State Road 43 in Manatee County, Florida. The other vehicle was a 16,000-pound forklift, or "lift-it," with tires similar to tractor tires. Alice Albritton was operating the forklift. She was employed as a crew chief and forklift driver by Charles Hilyer, d/b/a Hilyer Sod Farms. Hilyer Sod was installing sod along the edge of the state road. In order to install the sod, Hilyer Sod had a sizable crew, including several persons to direct traffic. The forklift was used to move pallets of sod at the job site. Thus, the forklift was often operated on the roadway in this work zone.

Hilyer Sod did not own the forklift. Hilyer Sod rented the vehicle from Taylor Rental Center, which was in the business of renting construction equipment. Taylor Rental did not provide the driver, and thus knew that an employee of Hilyer Sod would necessarily operate the forklift.

If an owner of a golf cart is liable under Florida's dangerous instrumentality doctrine for the golf cart's operation on a golf course by a lessee, Meister v. Fisher, 462 So.2d 1071 (Fla.1984), surely the owner of this larger, four-wheel vehicle with protruding steel tusks is liable under this doctrine for its operation on a public highway by a lessee. The courts of Florida have applied this doctrine to other types of heavy equipment on job sites. Scott & Jobalia Constr. Co. v. Halifax Paving, Inc., 538 So.2d 76 (Fla. 5th DCA), jurisdiction accepted, 544 So.2d 199 (Fla.1989) (crane); Eagle Stevedores, Inc. v. Thomas, 145 So.2d 551 (Fla. 3d DCA 1962) (tow motor).

In a strict construction of a criminal statute, this court has held that a backhoe is not a conveyance because it is "special mobile equipment" and not a "motor vehicle" within the definitions of chapter 316 of the Florida Statutes concerning traffic control. M.J.S. v. State, 453 So.2d 870 (Fla. 2d DCA 1984). See §§ 316.003(21), 316.003(49), Fla.Stat. (1985). Assuming that this forklift is "special mobile equipment" for the purposes of chapter...

To continue reading

Request your trial
8 cases
  • Newton v. Caterpillar Fin. Servs. Corp.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • September 27, 2018
    ...of "motor vehicle" within the Florida Statutes are not dispositive,’ " Newton , 209 So.3d at 616 (quoting Harding v. Allen-Laux, Inc. , 559 So.2d 107, 108 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990) ), we consult Black's Law Dictionary . A "motor vehicle" is: "A wheeled conveyance that does not run on rails and is ......
  • Rippy v. Shepard
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 19, 2012
    ...operate along state roads and other public areas, thereby subjecting the public to danger of injury. Cf. Harding v. Allen–Laux, Inc., 559 So.2d 107, 108 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990) (holding that a forklift that was often operated along the edge of a state road was a dangerous instrumentality under t......
  • Harvey v. State , S–10–0194.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 25, 2011
    ...Cas. Ins. Co. v. Spears, 360 Ark. 200, 200 S.W.3d 436, 439–40 (2004) (discussing Arkansas definition); Harding v. Allen–Laux, Inc., 559 So.2d 107, 108 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1990) (assuming that a forklift is “special mobile equipment” under the Florida definition). A forklift would also be inclu......
  • Canull v. Hodges, 90-2265
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 15, 1991
    ...So.2d 551 (Fla. 3d DCA 1962); heavy machinery not licensed or regulated but operating on a public right of way, Harding v. Allen-Laux, Inc., 559 So.2d 107 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990); motor vehicles licensed and regulated and operated in an area accessible to the golfing public, Meister v. Fisher, 4......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT