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Former Buccaneers Kicker Files Premises Liability Lawsuit against Team

A former kicker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Bucs) is suing the team for negligence in a premises liability lawsuit that claims that the team’s lack of sanitary conditions gave him a career-ending injury. Lawrence Tynes recently filed the lawsuit against the professional football team in Broward County Court, alleging that the unsanitary conditions gave him MRSA and ended his kicking career.

Facts of the Case

According to the complaint, the former kicker for the Bucs accused the team of failing to keep the locker rooms and other training facilities clean, which resulted in him and two other team members contracting methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Mr. Tynes alleges that he signed on to the Bucs as a free agent in 2013, relying on the representation from the team that the facilities were top-notch. Once he was on the team, Mr. Tynes had a toenail procedure on his kicking foot that resulted in an open wound.

Mr. Tynes alleges that the team management encouraged him to use the team facilities while simultaneously covering up individual instances of MRSA on the team. The Bucs did not have the procedures in place to prevent the spread of infection in their facilities. He claims that the team “failed to employ necessary sterile techniques and routinely left therapy devices, equipment, and surfaces unclean.” They even let members of the team infected with MRSA use the same soaking tubs as Mr. Tynes.

In his complaint, Mr. Tynes specifically noted that team members battling MRSA infections that summer included Special Teams Coach Dave Wannstedt, offensive linemen Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks, punter Michael Koenen and head trainer Todd Toriscelli, and all were sharing the same hot tubs and other team facilities. Mr. Nicks retired last season partially as a result of complications stemming from his MRSA infection.

Within one month of his toenail procedure, Ms. Tynes had contracted MRSA in his kicking foot. He had to undergo three surgeries to remove the infected tissue in his foot and six weeks of intravenous antibiotic therapy. “Ultimately the infection was eliminated but debilitating and persistent pain remained — permanently ending (Tynes’) professional football career.”

Mr. Tynes claims that he could have kicked for another six or seven season as a professional football player if not for the unclean premises that led to the infection, earning as much as $3 million per year. He is seeking lost future wages as well as compensation for pain and suffering for a total of $20 million.

Florida Premises Liability Law

Mr. Tynes is suing the Tampa Bay Bucs under the negligence theory of premises liability. In Florida, a property owner has a legal duty to keep their premises safe for others, or else face civil liability. However, the level of duty differs depending on the type of visitor – trespasser, licensee, or invitee – that enters the property.

Trespasser

A property owner owes very little duty to a trespasser who enters the property without permission. Under Florida law, a trespasser “enters the premises of another without license, invitation, or other right, and intrudes for some definite purpose of his own, or at his own convenience, or merely as an idler with no apparent purpose, other than perhaps to satisfy his curiosity.” A property owner must only refrain from willful and wanton injury, such as setting traps for a trespasser, and nothing more.

Licensee

A property owner owes a bit more of a duty to a licensee on their property. A licensee can be either an uninvited or an invited licensee, and Florida law defines it as “those who come there solely for their own convenience or pleasure, and who are not either expressly invited to enter or induced to come thereon, although their entry is permitted by the owner or occupant.”

The legal duty of a property owner who deals with licensees must refrain from willful or wanton injury or exposing the licensee to reckless danger. If the licensee is invited, then the owner must maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition for their behalf.

Invitee

A property owner owes the most duty to an invitee, who can either be a business invitee or a public invitee. A business invitee is defined as “a person who is invited to enter or remain on land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of the land” whereas a public invitee is defined as “a person who is invited to enter or remain on land as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public.”

For invitees, a property owner must maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition and guard against foreseeable third party crimes. In addition, the owner must correct or warn invitees of dangers that the owner knows or should have known about through the use of reasonable care, which the invitee would not know about through the same use of care.

Application of Florida Premises Liability Law

In this case, Mr. Tynes is alleging that as a business invitee he was owed a better duty than what was afforded to him by the team facility owners, the Tampa Bay Bucs. According to the complaint, the Bucs knew of the dangers of MRSA and failed to warn him of the danger before he used the facilities. In addition, the Bucs failed to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition by failing to prevent the further spread of the disease through a lack of preventative measures and sanitary conditions in the team facilities.

Call a Florida Personal Injury Attorney Now

If you have been injured while on the premises of another person, The Pendas Law Firm is here to help. With locations in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, and Fort Myers, our experienced personal injury attorneys are here to help you with your legal needs. Call the office or contact us today for a free and private review of your personal injury claims.

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