TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – A state appeals court has ruled that Bank of America cannot be held liable for injuries suffered by a man who was mistakenly reported as a bank robber.

The Miami-Dade County case was filed by Rodolfo Valladares, who was injured by police in July 2008 after a teller at a Bank of America branch mistook him for a robber. A jury found the bank negligent and awarded about $3.3 million for medical expenses, pain-and-suffering damages and punitive damages.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd District Court of Appeal overturned the verdict, finding that a person cannot be held liable for “simple negligence” when contacting police to report a suspected crime, according to Wednesday’s ruling.

“Under Florida law … an individual’s interest to be free from mistaken accusations is balanced against the need to encourage people to report suspected crimes,” said Wednesday’s ruling, written by Judge Thomas Logue and joined by judges Vance Salter and Ivan Fernandez. “A person calling the police to report a possible crime is not liable for a good faith mistake even if the individual reported suffers personal injuries at the hands of the police.”

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.



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