Whitman v. Castlewood Intern. Corp.

Citation383 So.2d 618
Decision Date27 March 1980
Docket NumberNo. 54679,54679
PartiesCharles A. WHITMAN, Jr., as Administrator of the Estate of John Michael Whitman, deceased, and James Girot, Petitioners, v. CASTLEWOOD INTERNATIONAL CORP., Respondent.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida

Joel T. Daves III of Burdick & Daves, West Palm Beach, for petitioners.

Marjorie D. Gadarian of Jones, Paine & Foster, West Palm Beach, for respondent.

OVERTON, Justice.

This cause is before us on petition for writ of certiorari to review the decision of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, reported at 359 So.2d 5 (Fla. 4th DCA 1978). We find conflict with our recent decision in Colonial Stores, Inc. v. Scarbrough, 355 So.2d 1181 (Fla.1978). We have jurisdiction. 1

The district court held improper a general verdict under circumstances where two alternative theories of liability were presented to the jury and the evidence was not sufficient to support one of the theories. We quash the decision of the district court and remand for reconsideration in light of Colonial Stores.

A detailed factual statement concerning the bizarre and tragic circumstances which resulted in this action is contained in the district court's opinion. In summary, the petitioners, who were plaintiffs in the consolidated trial, presented to the jury two theories of liability against Castlewood. One theory proposed that Castlewood was negligent in failing to exercise reasonable care to provide for the safety of the petitioners as invitees upon the premises. The second theory asserted that the two volunteer assistants to the employed bouncer were agents of Castlewood and were acting within the scope of their agency at the time and place of the incident. The jury returned general verdicts in favor of the petitioners. On appeal, the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed the verdicts, holding that the jury instruction concerning the agency relationship was prejudicial error and that there was no competent evidence to support an agency relationship. The district court specifically noted that it did not pass on the issue of Castlewood's negligence and further stated: "(T)he jury verdict did not set forth the theory upon which it reached its verdict, and it may well have done so upon the agency relationship which we have found is not present under the facts of this case." 359 So.2d at 7.

In Colonial Stores we adopted the two-issue rule and held that where there is no proper objection to the use of a general verdict, reversal is improper where no error is found as to one of two issues submitted to the jury on the basis that the appellant is unable to establish that he has been prejudiced. 355 So.2d at 1186.

In the instant case we reject the contentions that there was a proper request for a special verdict and a proper objection to the general verdict form. No special verdict, interrogatories or requested written instructions were submitted to the court at the close of the evidence and before the instruction conference, as required by Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 1.470(b). Instead, the request for a special verdict was made after argument by counsel to the jury and after instructions on the law by the court. At a conference with the court concerning the form of the verdicts at the conclusion of the trial, the following was discussed:

MR. McGILL (defense counsel): My only problem, Judge, is that we have two separate theories of liability against...

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49 cases
  • Rety v. Green
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 14 February 1989
    ...in favor of the plaintiff; and (c) Southern Commodity Corporation voiced no objection to a general verdict form. Whitman v. Castlewood Int'l Corp., 383 So.2d 618 (Fla.1980); Colonial Stores, Inc. v. Scarbrough, 355 So.2d 1181 (Fla.1977); Gonzalez v. Leon, 511 So.2d 606 (Fla. 3d DCA 1987), r......
  • Marriott International, Inc. v. Perez-Melendez
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 25 July 2003
    ...submitted to the jury on the basis that the appellant is unable to establish that he has been prejudiced." Whitman v. Castlewood Int'l Corp., 383 So.2d 618, 619 (Fla.1980). The rule applies to separate theories of liability and defenses; it does not apply to the elements of a cause of actio......
  • Tallahassee Furniture Co., Inc. v. Harrison
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • 31 July 1991
    ... ... Whitman v. Castlewood International ... Page 750 ... Corp., 383 So.2d 618 ... ...
  • Martinmaas v. Engelmann
    • United States
    • South Dakota Supreme Court
    • 28 June 2000
    ...general verdict form to the jury, then under the rule, a general verdict cannot be reversible error. Id. See also Whitman v. Castlewood Int'l Corp., 383 So.2d 618 (Fla.1980). The objection and the request will avoid the rule, even when the trial court declines the [¶ 77.] Here, Engelmann di......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 books & journal articles
  • The two-issue rule and itemized verdicts: walking the tightrope.
    • United States
    • Florida Bar Journal Vol. 74 No. 7, July 2000
    • 1 July 2000
    ...See Padovano, supra, at [sections] 9.9. Thus, the following analysis is confined to civil cases. [2] Whitman v. Castlewood Int'l Corp., 383 So. 2d 618, 619 (Fla. 1980). [3] In adopting the two-issue rule, the court rejected the contrary rule, which "mandates a reversal where error has affec......

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