In WG Evergreen Woods SH, et al. v. Fares, the Florida Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals considered whether Florida Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 1.190(f) required the trial court to hold a hearing before allowing the plaintiff leave to amend its complaint to add a claim for punitive damages. The plaintiff in the action was the estate of a man named Donald DeVore, who was a resident at the defendant’s assisted living facility. At the facility, he received occupational and physical therapy to improve his strength. He was also permitted to use the pool and the hot tub. One day, a staff member found DeVore alone and unresponsive in the hot tub. It was later determined that he suffered a heart attack and consequently died.
The estate sued the defendant for negligence and wrongful death, seeking compensatory damages. In its complaint, the estate alleged that the decedent’s medical conditions indicated that he should not be allowed to use the hot tub and that despite assurances from the defendant, the decedent often used the hot tub and pool without assistance or supervision. They alleged that the decedent’s ultimate cause of death was drowning.
After the litigation progressed for one year, the plaintiff moved for leave to amend the complaint to add a claim for punitive damages. Pursuant to FRCP 1.190(f), the plaintiffs included a copy of the proposed amended complaint. The amendment would add 18 new sections, including affidavits from the plaintiff’s experts, an autopsy report, deposition transcripts, and more.