A Florida judge claims he saw absolutely no connection between free baseball tickets from a lawyer and a favorable outcome in a pending case.
12th Judicial Circuit Judge John Lakin said he believed he could accept prime seats to an upcoming Tampa Bay Rays game from Kallins, Little & Delgado while the law firm represented a victim in a slip-and-fall case that was pending in his courtroom, as long has he subsequently and quietly disclosed the gift in his annual report. Judge Lakin’s attorney said that his client was unfamiliar with the ethics rules on the subject, since he had only been a judge for about three years. According to a complaint filed with the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission, this latest instance is at least the third time since 2013 that Judge Lakin has accepted baseball tickets in a similar fashion.
In the aforementioned case involving the firm, Judge Lankin threw out a defense verdict and ordered a new trial just one day after the ticket transfer.
Judges very rarely overturn jury verdicts, which is probably why the above case triggered an inquiry into the judge’s conduct. But such a result is possible in some circumstances. Sometimes, there may be no evidence for part of the plaintiff’s claim. For example, in a car crash case, the plaintiff must prove duty, breach, cause, proximate cause, and damages. If there is no evidence on any one of these points, the plaintiff cannot win, no matter what the jury says.
In a slip-and-fall case, the plaintiff must basically prove two elements:
- Property Defect: This category includes wet spots on the floor, uneven walkways, dark parking lots, and other such dangerous conditions.
- Knowledge: The plaintiff can use either direct or circumstantial evidence to prove landowner awareness.
The plaintiff must prove each element by a preponderance of the evidence, which means more likely than not.
People use circumstantial evidence to make judgements all the time. If a witness sees a car in line at a fast-food drive through, it is perfectly natural to conclude that, more likely than not, someone in the car ordered French fries or a soft drink, although there is no direct evidence of such a purchase.
In a landowner liability matter, knowledge can be established based on the amount of time that the defect existed. In a notable case from Boston that involved a slip-and-fall on a banana peel, the judge concluded that if the peel was yellow, it had just fallen on the floor and the owner could not have known about it. But, if the peel was black, it had been there for quite some time, and that amount of time is circumstantial evidence of knowledge.
Rely on Experienced Lawyers
Property owners have a duty to keep their premises safe. For a free consultation with an aggressive attorney who stands up for your rights, contact a Tampa personal injury lawyer today. You have a limited amount of time to act.