Thursday, June 21, 2018

Summary Judgment Granted in Fatal Slip and Fall Case

Summary Judgment was granted by the trial court in a fatal slip and fall case under the caption of Wasnetsky v. Quinn's Market, No. 14-CV-4437 (C.P. Lacka. Co. June 15, 2018 Nealon, J.).

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff allegedly slipped and fell as result of stepping on a liquid on the floor in the market.  The Plaintiff's decedent struck his head on the linoleum floor and allegedly tragically died from his head injuries.

In his Opinion, Judge Terrence R. Nealon thoroughly reviewed the current status of premises liability law in Pennsylvania and reaffirmed that the law requires a plaintiff to show that a he or she was caused to fall by a dangerous condition on the premises that the landowner knew or should have known about and failed to remedy.  The court additionally reviewed the law of those cases where summary judgment was granted where a Plaintiff could not point to the cause of his or her fall.

The court more specifically pointed out that the only witness to the accident was another customer in the store who confirmed that she witnessed the Plaintiff's decedent fall and that there was no liquid on the floor where the Plaintiff fell as alleged in the Plaintiff's Complaint.  This witness also confirmed that the Plaintiff was wearing loafer-like shoes with a smooth bottom that looked like a "slippery type of shoe."

The record also revealed that the store manager who reported to the scene while the Plaintiff's decedent was still on the floor also noted that there was no liquid on the floor in that area.  A produce manager also reported to the scene and likewise confirmed that there was no liquid on the floor in the area of the Plaintiff's decedent's fall.

The court also noted that liability expert testimony offered by the Plaintiff from two expert was not sufficiently based in fact in terms of how the accident occurred.  As such, the court found that this expert testimony was incompetent to defeat the summary judgment motion.

Based upon the record before the court in this matter, the court held that, even when the case was viewed in a light most favorable to the Plaintiff as required by the summary judgment standard of review, there was no admissible evidence presented of any liquid, substance, or any other dangerous condition on the floor that ostensibly caused the Plaintiff to fall.

The court additionally noted that the Plaintiff also failed to offer evidence to show actual or constructive notice on the part of the Defendants of any allegedly dangerous condition on the premises.

Based on these failures by the Plaintiffs to sustain their burden of proof, summary judgment was granted by the court.

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

UPDATE:  Judge Nealon's decision was affirmed on appeal in a Non-precedential decision issued by the Pennsylvania Superior Court on April 8, 2019.  Click HERE to view that Superior Court Non-Precedential Opinion.

As a further update, it is noted that, on January 2, 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court denied plaintiff's petition for allowance of appeal.  Here is a LINK to the Supreme Court's Order in this regard.

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