By Ilana R. Morady and Craig B. Simonsen

In a recent District Court decision in a toxic torts case, De Zayas v. Bellsouth Telecommunications, Inc., ___ F.Supp.2d ___, 2012 WL 161330 (S.D.Fla., January 18, 2012), the Court, finding no causal connection between the Defendant and the damage claim, granted the Defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

This case involved a telephone pole that was installed adjacent to the Plaintiffs’ property for four months in 2009, that Plaintiffs believed somehow contaminated the property’s well water. In reviewing the facts, the Court found that the Plaintiffs had not established any causal connection between the telephone pole and any contaminants in the Plaintiffs’ water supply. The Plaintiffs had relied on a res ipsa loquitor theory of liability to make their case. The doctrine of res ipsa loquitor states that the elements of proving a tort can sometimes be inferred from the nature of an outcome even without direct evidence of how a defendant behaved. The Court held that with the facts of this case, res ipsa loquitor failed because the county in which the property sits typically contains detectable contaminant levels in the ground water.

The Court summarized that “[a]s the nonmoving party, the Plaintiffs are required to go beyond their pleadings and present admissible evidence demonstrating a genuine issue for trial. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).” The Plaintiffs simply had not presented any evidence to establish causation.