Florida Record

Monday, September 23, 2019

Appeals court rules water association should have warned about protruding valve

By Dee Thompson | Apr 26, 2017

Cracks like this in an asphalt driveway can let water into the substructure, which could cause problems. | Courtesy of Morguefile.com

LAKELAND — The 2nd District Court of Appeal determined that Island Water Association should not have been granted summary judgment and it had a duty to warn of a protruding water valve that caused a woman to trip and fall. 

Both Annette Cantalupo and the authorities in charge of the valve had appealed the Circuit Court for Lee County’s decision.

The defendants in the suit are Lee County Department of Transportation and Island Water. The lower court found in favor of Island Water and granted that defendant summary judgment, saying that Island Water "did not have a legal duty to repair the county road around its water valve or warn the public.” 

The appeals court reversed that and remanded the case back to the lower court.

Cantalupo tripped on a protruding water valve cover on Dec. 5, 2010, when she was walking on Captiva Drive. The area was commonly used by pedestrians and is owned by Lee County. The water valve and pipes beneath the street are owned by Island Water. Cantalupo alleged that Island Water negligently maintained the water valve, failed to provide warning and failed to correct the condition, among other issues.

“At the time of Cantalupo's accident, the asphalt surrounding the valve had separated from around the valve," the court ruling states. "It appeared that the asphalt had sunk such that the asphalt was no longer flush with the valve, causing the valve to protrude above the asphalt. Approximately three months after the accident, Island Water had repairs made to the asphalt around the valve to bring the asphalt flush with the valve.”

Island Water argued in the trial court that its only duty was to maintain the equipment. The trial court granted Island Water’s motion in limine regarding remedial repairs. The appellate court reversed that ruling.

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Florida Second District Court of Appeal