Monday, June 7, 2010

Assumption of Risk Defense Upheld in Centre County Case

The assumption of risk defense was recently upheld in the Centre County trial court decision of Vail v. Leonard S. Fiore, Inc., PICS Case No. 10-1789 (C.P. Centre April 28, 2010 Lunsford, J.).

The Vail case involved a plaintiff who was employed at an elementary school that was undergoing renovations. On the day of the trip and fall incident, the plaintiff was on her way to monitor dismissal of students.

As she was going through the doorway to the main building of the school, plaintiff stepped around a tightly rolled carpet that was about six to eight inches high. There was a one-foot wide space where the carpet was not blocking the doorway.

Plaintiff stepped through this one-foot wide space to walk around the carpet. She caught her pant leg on the roll of carpet and fell, allegedly sustaining personal injuries.

Plaintiff filed this negligence action against various defendants. All of the defendants moved for summary judgment on the basis of the plaintiff's alleged assumption of the risk presented.

The evidence in the case established that about two or three minutes prior to the accident, plaintiff had walked out of the school's main building, using the same doorway where her accident later occurred.

At that time, the plaintiff admittedly saw the carpet that was partially across the bottom of the doorway. On her way out of the building before her incident, she also walked through the same one-foot wide opening in the doorway rather than stepping over the carpet. The plaintiff later came back and walked through the same doorway when her trip and fall occurred.

The court determined that because plaintiff voluntarily and intelligently chose to try to step around the rolled up carpet, with the previous awareness of the presence of the carpet and the risk of potentially falling, she was barred from recovery under the assumption of risk doctrine.

Accordingly, the court granted defendants' summary judgment on the basis of assumption of risk.

Source: Case Digests of June 8, 2010 Pennsylvania Law Weekly

Anyone desiring a copy of this case may secure one for a small fee by calling the Instant Case Service of the Pennsylvania Law Weekly at 1-800-276-PICS (7427) and giving the above PICS Number.

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