LAKELAND – Claims for negligence and indemnification filed against Tank Tech, Inc. as part of a dispute with Valley Tank Testing, LLC regarding liability for damage to underground petroleum tanks (USTs) will stand, according to an opinion entered on April 20 by the Florida District Court of Appeal, Second District.
The appeals court said Tank Tech and Valley Tank do not agree on which party was to blame for the damage to tanks “at various Circle K stores.” Tank Tech was responsible for installing walls inside of the tanks in question, while Valley Tank tested the walls.
“As a result of the damage, Tank Tech was required to repair the damaged USTs,” the opinion said. “Tank Tech then sued Valley Tank to recover the repair costs and other losses.”
The appeals court said Tank Tech appealed the ruling in Valley Tank’s favor that was entered by the Circuit Court for Hillsborough County, arguing that “the trial court erred in finding that Valley Tank owed no duty to Tank Tech and that there was no factual basis to show that Valley Tank was negligent in its testing of the USTs,” and that “there were genuine issues of material fact regarding which of the two entities caused the damage for purposes of (an) indemnification claim.”
Although the appeals court upheld the circuit court’s ruling in Valley Tank’s favor in connection with the negligence and indemnification claims, it did overturn the lower court’s order on an equitable subrogation claim, which would have allowed Valley Tank to recover damages paid by Tank Tech to remedy the issues with the USTs.
“Although Tank Tech and Valley Tank each had their own contracts with Circle K to provide different services, Tank Tech and Valley Tank did not have a contract with each other,” the appeals court ruling said. “Notably, Tank Tech’s contract with Circle K required Tank Tech to repair any damage to the containment systems installed on Circle K's USTs regardless of whether the damage was caused by an action and/or omission of Tank Tech or by a third party.”
The appeals court said it disagreed with the district court’s ruling on the equitable subrogation claims because Tank Tech’s contract with Circle K did not automatically obligate it to cover damages paid byValley Tech.
The equitable subrogation claim portion of the lawsuit was sent back to the district court for further proceedings.