Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Summary Judgment Denied in Water Park Accident Case

In the case of Deleon v. MHC Timothy Lake N. Ltd. Partnership, No. 8652 - CV - 2014 (C.P. Monroe Co. Nov. 29, 2017 Williamson, J.), Judge David J. Williamson of the Monroe County Court of Common Pleas denied a Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a case involving injuries allegedly sustained by a minor Plaintiff while riding down a water slide at the Defendant’s water park.   The court essentially found that genuine issues of material fact existed to allow the case to proceed to a jury.  

According to the Opinion, the Defendant operated a water park at which the Plaintiff visited with her family and friends.   The Plaintiff made several trips down a water slide.  On the last trip, the Plaintiff emerged with a forehead laceration.  

The Plaintiff’s Complaint alleged that the laceration was caused by a jagged edge on the water slide.  However, deposition testimony indicated that the injury may have occurred instead when the Plaintiff hit her head on the water slide.  

The Defendant moved for summary judgment, asserting that the Plaintiff admitted in discovery that the alleged jagged edge on the water slide did not exist.   In the alternative, the defense asserted that there was no evidence of actual or constructive knowledge on the part of the Defendant of the allegedly defective condition.   The Defendant also maintained that the Plaintiff’s claim under res ipsa loquitur was not substantiated, as injuries on water slides were common.

The court rejected the defense argument relative to the res ipsa loquitur argument by noting that there were genuine issues of fact to be considered by a jury.  

The court additionally found that the inconsistent allegations by the Plaintiff as to how the laceration occurred were not enough to warrant summary judgment as the factual determination in that regard should be left to the jury.  

The court also rejected the defense argument that summary judgment was warranted given that the slide had been formally inspected three (3) days prior to the Plaintiff’s alleged incident.    The court noted that, even if the Defendant had passed the inspection, that did not eliminate the possibility that the inspector had missed a defect or that some other condition had occurred between the inspection and the Plaintiff’s accident that could have caused the injury.   Again, since there were issues of fact in this regard, the court denied the Motion for Summary Judgment and allowed the case to proceed.  


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


Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions,” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Feb. 13, 2018).  



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