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Unformatted text preview: llen, J., concurs and Nimmons, J., concurs and dissents in part with
OPINIONBY: SMITH 32 OPINION: [*747] Appellant, Tallahassee Furniture Company, Inc., appeals from a jury
verdict finding it liable for personal injuries suffered by the appellee, Elizabeth Holland
Harrison, and awarding compensatory and punitive damages. For the reasons discussed
[**2] below, we affirm.
On January 1, 1986, Harrison was brutally attacked in her home by John Allen Turner, a
furniture delivery man employed by Tallahassee Furniture. The attack left Harrison with
permanent scaring and disfigurement, loss of one eye, and partial paralysis in both hands.
Harrison filed suit, alleging in her complaint that Tallahassee Furniture was negligent in
hiring and retaining Turner, and that Tallahassee Furniture was also liable on an agency
theory. A summary judgment in favor of [*748] Tallahassee Furniture was reversed on
appeal, Harrison v. Tallahassee Furniture Co., Inc., 529 So.2d 790 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988),
when this court held that the existence of numerous issues of fact made summary
judgment inappropriate. On remand, after a six-day trial at which Harrison presented the
testimony of 21 witnesses, the jury returned a general verdict in favor of Harrison for $
1,900,000 in compensatory damages, and $ 600,000 punitive damages. This appeal
Tallahassee Furniture argues for reversal primarily upon five grounds: (1) that the trial
court erred in submitting the theories of actual or apparent agency to the jury; (2) that
Tallahassee Furniture satisfied [**3] its duty of reasonable care in hiring and retaining
Turner, and was thus entitled to judgment as a matter of law; (3) that the trial court
reversibly erred in admitting into evidence Turner's psychiatric and criminal records,
including juvenile offenses; (4) that Tallahassee Furniture did not proximately cause
Harrison's injuries; and (5) that the court erred in submitting the issue of punitive
damages to the jury.
I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
The evidence at trial established that prior to being employed in the job he held at the
time Harrison was injured, John Allen Turner had performed some work as a laborer on
construction projects for a company owned in part by a man...
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- Spring '08