Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summary Judgment Entered For Landlord in Lackawanna County Trip and Fall Case

Senior Visiting Judge Harold A. Thomson, Jr. sitting in on a Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas case recently entered a summary judgment in favor of the Defendants in the trip and fall case of Higgins v. Siminski, No. 2006 -CV - 2480 (Lacka. Co. June 8, 2011, Thomson, S.J).

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff was arrested on the night of the incident for public drunkenness.  After being taken to police headquarters to be issued a citation, the officer(s) transported the Plaintiff home.  The officer(s) assisted the Plaintiff up the outside steps to the second floor door of his apartment.  The Plaintiff fell from the officer's grasp and rolled off second floor landing and hit the asphalt below in a head first fashion.

The Plaintiff claimed that the Defendant landowners/landlords were negligent in their care of the property and breached the implied warranty of habitability.

Judge Thomson found, however, there were no witnesses to the accident, and no expert opinion regarding the condition of the property. Nobody knew exactly how the plaintiff fell, including the plaintiff, because he was in a drunken state when he fell off the second floor of the property.

Because the plaintiff could only speculate as to the cause of the fall, the court reasoned that “there are too many possibilities for explanations in this particular instance, with too much risk of a fact-finder making an assessment of liability on conjecture, rather than fact.”

The court therefore granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendant landowners/landlords on both the negligence and breach of the implied warranty of habitability counts.

The prevailing defense attorney is William Connor, Esq. of the Philadelphia law firm of Christie, Pabarue, Mortenson & Young.  I thank Attorney Matthew Shusterman of the same firm for bringing this case to my attention.

Anyone desiring a copy of Judge Thomson's Opinion in the case of Higgins v. Siminski may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

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