New Notice: Illegality of Exculpatory Clauses in Strict Liability Actions

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA, USA, Nov. 18, 2022 / — Partner Julie H. Littky-Rubin has won a tremendous new opinion from the 4th District Court of Appeals in Harrell v. BMS Partners, d/b/ a Broward Motorsports.

In 2018, the plaintiff purchased a Suzuki-branded motorcycle from the defendant retailer. The signed sales contract contained exculpatory terms, purporting to release the dealer, Broward Motorsports, from any liability for injuries suffered by the buyer. Shortly after purchasing the motorcycle, the plaintiff was involved in an accident and suffered serious bodily injuries.

Shortly after taking possession of the motorcycle, his front end began to wobble, thrash and spin violently as he rode it. The young man lost control of the motorcycle and crashed into a motor vehicle. Mr. Harrell sued Broward Motorsports for both negligence in the assembly, setup, maintenance, repair and/or inspection of the motorcycle, and for strict liability. In his capacity as a seller in the course of trade. Florida law allows innocent and injured victims to sue entities such as sellers and distributors in the course of trade (as well as the manufacturer of the product) for their “strict liability”, when a product they use does not does not work as a reasonable consumer would expect.

Case No. 4D22-121

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Because of this well-established public policy in Florida, the Court concluded, on its face, that an entity in the flow of commerce/distribution chain cannot use a contractual provision to shield itself from a strict liability claim. . The Court found that while the provision is intended to protect (in this case, the retailer) from strict liability claims, Florida law does not permit such a provision to apply.

The Court considered the Florida Supreme Court’s adoption of strict liability in Florida in 1976, and its reliance on Section 402A Restatement 2d supports its decision. Its further reliance on strict liability laws drawn from other jurisdictions reinforces that litigants may be able to use this decision as authority to assist them in other states, to strike down these virulent pre-injury exculpatory clauses.

“After the Fourth District ruling, the law in Florida shines a little brighter for consumers,” Littky-Rubin said in an interview with the Daily Business Review.

Ms. Littky-Rubin welcomes questions regarding the opinion, she can be reached at 561-899-2144 or

About Julie H. Littky-Rubin
Julie H. Littky-Rubin is a board-certified appellate attorney and partner in Personal Injury Plaintiff Powerhouse, Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather, Littky-Rubin & Whitman. Experienced in all aspects of civil litigation law, Julie leads the firm’s appellate practice and provides trial support to the firm. She prepares legal briefs and presents oral arguments by skillfully synthesizing complex legal concepts into something powerful and understandable.

Additionally, Julie manages an extensive appellate practice, writing winning appeal briefs and presenting effective oral arguments. Many law firms and attorneys across Florida refer to Julie for her expertise in complex legal issues and retain her for their appellate and trial assistance needs.

Clark, Fontaine, La Vista, Prather, Littky-Rubin and Whitman
Based in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather, Littky-Rubin & Whitman has represented clients in all areas of personal injury litigation, including auto and truck accidents, product liability, wrongful death and medical malpractice, and practicing the right of appeal for four decades. Clark Fountain attorneys have won over $1 billion in record verdicts and settlements in Florida and across the United States. For more information, call our office at 561-899-2144.

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