Dade Ct. Sch. Bd. v. Radio Station WQBA, 731 So.2d 638 (Fla., 1999)

During the annual Three Kings Day Parade held in Miami Florida, the Miami Senior High School majorettes twirled flaming batons. Alfredo Sans and Maria Lozano were two students who were to assist with the lighting of the batons. Lozano and Sans brought two cans of a flammable liquid past fire and police officials, for lighting the batons, and keeping them lit throughout the parade route. At some point along the parade, one of the cans of flammable liquid caught on fire and tipped over. Sans tried to kick the flaming container away from the students, but it landed in an area of parade spectators. Several of the spectators were burned as a result.

The injured spectators filed a lawsuit against the organizers and sponsors of the parade as Three Kings, and against the Dade County School Board (DCSB) alleging negligence in allowing flammable liquids to be used in a dangerous manner. Three Kings filed cross claims against DCSB, claiming the school board was the sole cause of the burn injuries. They also sought indemnification from DCSB for claims under the “Participation Agreement” signed by DCSB for participation in the parade.

The Three Kings’ liability insurer settled with all plaintiffs, to the amount of over $2 million, and DCSB settled with three plaintiffs. Three Kings then filed for summary judgment against DCSB for reimbursement of the settlement amounts. The trial court found in favor of Three Kings on the issue of contractual indemnity based on the Participation Agreement; however, a trial would determine the percentages of fault allocated to each party.

The trial court found DCSB to be 90% negligent,and the student Sans to be 10% negligent. The jury also found no special relationship between Three Kings and DCSB. Both sides filed for summary judgment, with Three Kings arguing an alternative basis for recovery under the doctrine of equitable subrogation. The trail court entered a final judgment in favor of Three Kings in the settlement amount of $2,035,000, which included costs and attorney’s fees. DCSB appealed the award. The Third District Court of Appeal affirmed the judgement.

The Florida Supreme Court granted DCSB’s petition for review, on the basis that it conflicted with case law, and Three Kings had never raised the doctrine of equitable subrogation in their original pleadings. The Court found that Three Kings could not be successful on a claim of common law indemnity, but remanded the case to determine the issue of contractual indemnification, and to correctly apply the doctrine of equitable subrogation.

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