Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Summary Judgment Granted in Lackawanna County Food Fight Slip and Fall Case



FOOOOD FIIIIGHT!!!
John Belushi as Bluto in Animal House (1978)


Summary Judgment was granted in the recent Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas decision of Rovinsky v. Lourdesmont, No. 2011-CV-2304 (C.P. Lacka. Co. June 19, 2013 O’Brien, S.J.) by senior visiting Judge Peter O’Brien in a slip and fall case that arose out of a cafeteria food fight.  

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff was present at the Lourdesmont facility as a business invitee.   She was performing as a lunch monitor in the cafeteria area when a food fight broke out.   As the Plaintiff was exiting the cafeteria after the food fight, she allegedly slipped on a clearest/reddish fluid and was allegedly injured.  

After discovery, the Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing that the Plaintiff’s deposition testimony demonstrated that the Plaintiff was aware of the risk created by the food fight and that she voluntarily chose to encounter such risk.  According to the record before the Court, the Plaintiff admitted that, prior to slipping, she saw food, water, and juice on the floor of the cafeteria.   However, immediately before she fell, she did not look at the ground in front of her when she slipped on the clearest/reddish fluid.  

Relying primarily on the assumption of risk case of Carrender v. Fitterer, 469 A.2d 120 (Pa. 1983), Judge O’Brien found that summary judgment should be granted as the Plaintiff was aware of the opening obvious condition of the debris on the cafeteria floor.   He also noted that the record revealed that the Plaintiff proceeded to exit the cafeteria without looking at the floor in front of her which resulted in her fall.   Judge O’Brien emphasized that the Plaintiff’s testimony demonstrated that she was aware of the danger and nevertheless chose to voluntarily navigate through it. 

Under Carrender, a possessor of land does not owe a duty of care to an invitee when the danger or hazardous condition is known or obvious and invitee continues despite the presence of the condition.   Judge O'Brien granted summary judgment on the basis of that precedent in this Rovinsky case. 

It is noted that summary judgment was entered as to less than all of the defendants.  A claim against the culinary management company that ran the cafeteria is ongoing.

I send thanks to Attorney Lauren Dobrowalski of the Scranton law firm of Cipriani and Werner for forwarding this Opinion to my attention.   The defense was handled by Attorney Daniel Stofko in her office. 

 Anyone desiring a copy of this Opinion may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.
 
 
Source of photo:  John Belushi from Animal House (1978).

 

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