Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Summary Judgment Granted in Schuylkill County Slip or Trip and Fall Case

In the case of Homa v. ZKG Realty, LLC., No. S-216-2013 (C.P. Schuylkill Co. July 29, 2015 Goodman, J.), the Court granted a Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a slip and fall case in the matter where the Plaintiff fell outside her doctor’s office.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff, who was eight (8) months pregnant with twins at the time, left her OB-GYN doctor’s office, stepped off the sidewalk and onto a grassy area to walk the direct route to her parking space when she slipped, tripped, stumbled, or fell by an allegedly dangerous condition caused by the negligence of the Defendant.

The Plaintiff’s Complaint asserted that the sidewalk abruptly ended without extending to the parking space and that patients were not warned or prevented from walking over the grassy area between the ending of the sidewalk and the beginning to the parking area. The Complaint also asserted that the Defendant’s negligent in failing to regularly inspect the sidewalk and the pathway.

The defense requested summary judgment for two (2) reasons. First, they asserted that the Plaintiff was unable to identify the cause of her fall and, therefore, could not meet her burden of proof. The Defendants noted that the Plaintiff admitted at her deposition that she did not know what caused her to fall. The Defendant’s secondary argument was that, if a dangerous condition did cause the Plaintiff’s fall, such condition was open and obvious to the Plaintiff.

In the end, after reviewing the current status of premises liability law in Pennsylvania, Judge Goodman ruled that the Plaintiff failed to meet her burden of proof by admitting several times during her deposition that she did not know what caused her to fall. Since the Plaintiff was unable to identify the cause of her fall, the court found that the Plaintiff could not sustain the burden of proof as to causation.

Moreover, even if the Plaintiff was caused to fall by wet or muddy grass, the Plaintiff did not identify that condition as the dangerous condition that the Defendants had an obligation to discover or remedy. The Court also noted that the Plaintiff had not established that the Defendants had a duty to inspect for mud or wet grass on a non-paved area on the premises.

Accordingly, summary judgment was entered in favor of the defense.

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

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