Thursday, September 21, 2023

Summary Judgment Denied in Slip and Fall Case After Plaintiff Produced Expert Report Asserting that Floor Mat Was Dangerous

In the case of Perry v. Sam’s East, Inc., No. 1:21-CV-00301-SPB (W.D. Pa. Aug. 17, 2022 Baxter, J.), the court denied a Defendant store’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a slip and fall case after finding that genuine issues of material fact existed regarding whether the danger was known and obvious to the Plaintiff,  The court found that this question remained to be decided by the jury.

In this case, the Plaintiff alleged that the store was negligent for not having a slip resistant mat on the floor in a pedestrian walkway. The Plaintiff produced expert evidence in support of the claims presented.

The Plaintiff’s expert concluded that the Plaintiff fell as a result of an allegedly dangerous unsecured, loose mat in a foreseeable pedestrian walkway.

The court found that there is genuine issues of material fact to be decided by the jury. As such, the Motion for Summary Judgment is denied.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: Article - “Court Rejects Sam’s Club’s Motion to Nix Slip-and-Fall Case, Citing Questions of Whether Danger was ‘Known and Obvious,” By Riley Brennan of the Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Aug. 21, 2023).


Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Third Circuit Allows Case To Proceed On College Tuition Refunds Due To COVID-19 Required Virtual Clasess

In the case of Hickey v. University of Pittsburgh, No. 21-2016 (3d. Cir. Aug. 11, 2023), the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that a district court erred in part in dismissing students’ complaint for a refund of tuition and fees after their university transition to fully remote instruction in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The court found that the students have plausibly alleged that they had an implied contract for on-campus schooling in exchange for their tuitions and fees.

The district court Order was affirmed in part and reversed in part and remanded in part.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  See the Court's related Order HERE.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Sept. 14, 2023).

Jury's Zero Verdict Upheld Even Though Defense Medical Expert Conceded Evidence of Alleged Injury

In the case of Derry v. Blackman, No. 3:21-CV-01744 (M.D. Pa. June 30, 2023 Mehalchick, J.), the court ruled that a jury’s zero verdict in a conceded liability case was not against the weight of the evidence.

In this matter, the Plaintiff filed a motion for a new trial.  The Federal Court addressed the motion under the standards set forth in F.R.C.P. 59.  Federal Magistrate Judge Karoline Mehalchick, who has been nominated to assume a position as a Federal Judge in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, wrote a thoroughly researched Opinion on the current status of Pennsylvania law regarding the validity of zero verdicts handed down by juries in Pennsylvania.

The court emphasized that the record in the case confirm that the existence, severity and alleged cause of the Plaintiff’s alleged injuries were all disputed.

Judge Mehalchick reiterated the rule of law that a jury is free to decide which side’s witnesses are credible.

The court also noted the general rule of law that, even if a jury found that a Plaintiff did actually suffer some pain or discomfort as a result of an accident, the jury could conclude that the injuries were not significant enough to warrant compensation.

In the end, the court found that the jury's verdict did not result in a miscarriage of justice and that the verdict did not cry out to be overturned as shocking the judicial conscience.   

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Philadelphia office of the Reed Smith law firm for bringing this case to my attention.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Just Because A Document is in the Cloud Doesn't Make it Accessible in Discovery

In the case of Edenfield v. ECM Energy Services, Inc., No. 999 MDA 2022 (Pa. Super. Aug. 1, 2023 Bowes, J., Lazarus, J., and Stevens, P.J.E.) (Op. by Bowes, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court reviewed a notable discovery issue and concluded that, despite the accessibility of electronic records stored by a party on the so-called cloud, state courts cannot order companies to compel documents stored on the cloud unless those companies have a sufficient link to Pennsylvania.

In this Opinion, the Pennsylvania Superior Court was presented with the question of whether electronic records stored in the cloud, without an established physical location in Pennsylvania, were located within Pennsylvania for purposes of Title 15 solely by virtue of being theoretically accessible from Pennsylvania.

In ruling that the documents did not have to be produced, the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld a decision out of the Lycoming County Court of Common Pleas in which that court had denied a Petition to Compel Inspection of Corporate Books and Records of a Party. 

The Superior Court noted that, to rule otherwise, would permit the courts to compel any business utilizing Quick Books or similar services to have to produce records in Pennsylvania despite the fact that there was no other connection to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The Superior Court stated that such a result was not contemplated by the law at issue.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: Article: “Despite Accessibility, Storing Corporate Records in the Cloud Does not Create Pa. Jurisdiction, Superior Court Rules.” By: Riley Brennan. Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Aug. 2, 2023).

Source of image:  Photo by Miguel Pedroso on

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Addresses Issues of Contribution And Indemnity in a Med Mal Case

In the case of McLaughlin v. Nahata, No. 7 WAP 2022 (Pa. July 28, 2023) (Op. by Brobson, J.), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether, as a matter of law, the hospital could seek contribution and/or indemnity from a dialysis clinic for negligence allegedly committed by the doctor employees of the dialysis clinic.

The trial court and the Superior Court had both concluded that, although the judicial principles for contribution and indemnity did not apply cleanly to these particular circumstances, equitable principles of law permitted the hospitals to seek both contribution and indemnity from the dialysis clinic.

In a unanimous decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that a hospital and a dialysis clinic were determined to be vicariously liable for the negligence of the doctors involved in this matter.  The Court also ruled that Pennsylvania law permitted the hospitals to seek contribution from the dialysis clinic. However, the court was evenly divided on the question as to whether the hospital could also seek indemnification from the dialysis clinic.

Given the decision on contribution and the inability to reach a decision on the indemnity issue, the Superior Court decision was affirmed on those questions.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK and the related Order HERE.

Source: “Justia Daily Opinion Summaries” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (July 29, 2023).

Attempt to Extend Medical Malpractice Liability to a Landlord of a Nursing Home Rejected

In the case of Drake v. Schwartz, No. 2019 - 07345-PL (C.P. Chester Co. Dec. 12, 2022 Binder, J.), an interesting and innovative theory of liability in a medical malpractice case was attempted by a plaintiff but rejected by the court.

In this case, the court granted the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Defendant, who was the owner and out-of-possession landlord of a property leased to a nursing home. 

The landowner Defendant had been brought into this nursing home negligence case under a theory that one of the dangerous conditions that caused the patient’s injuries was a condition of severe understaffing at the nursing home that was caused, in part, by financial hardships imposed on the tenant nursing home by its lease agreement with the landlord.

The trial court noted that the issue presented was one of first impression. In its filings, the Plaintiffs acknowledged that they had no authority for extending a landlord’s control over a dangerous condition to a lease that was allegedly unduly economically burdensome to a tenant.

The court declined to create a new avenue for liability against the out-of-possession landlord based solely on a tenant’s invitee alleging that the tenant’s lease was overly costly or burdensome.

As such, the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment was granted.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Aug. 22, 2023).

Source of image:  Photo by RDNE Stock Project on