Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Summary Judgment Denied in Fall Down Off of Fitting Platform in Store

Here's a Recipe for Disaster:

-Two high heels

-Pants that require hemming

-One Fitting Platform



In the case of Dorfmiester v. Nordstrom, Inc., No. 19-1958 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 21, 2019 Savage, U.S.D.J.), the court denied a Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a premises liability case where the court found issues of fact as to whether or not the tripping hazard was known or obvious to the Plaintiff and/or whether the Defendant’s employees knew or should have known of the risk of injury.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff frequently shopped at the Nordstrom store and often had clothes fitted or altered, during which she was required to step on and off a fitting platform similar to the one involved in the subject incident.

On the date of the incident, the Plaintiff stepped onto the fitting platform. She was wearing pants that were touching the floor and required hemming.

The Plaintiff alleged that an employee instructed the Plaintiff to step back to get a better look at the pant length. However, the Plaintiff’s heel became tangled in the fabric of the pant leg, causing the Plaintiff to fall and fracture her ankle.

The Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the store and its employees were negligent in failing to warn the Plaintiff of the tripping hazard posed by an unhemmed pant leg and in failing to assist her on the fitting platform.

The defense filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing that it had no duty to warn of or guard the Plaintiff from an obvious danger.

The court denied summary judgment finding genuine issues of material fact. The court noted that, although the defense asserted that the risk of stepping off of the platform in unhemmed pants while wearing heels was obvious to the Plaintiff in that she failed to exercise reasonable care and judgment for her own safety, a triable issue of fact was found as to whether the danger was known or obvious given the Plaintiff’s allegation that she was acting at the direction of the Defendant’s employee when she fell.

The court ruled that it was for the jury to decide whether the employee’s instructions to the Plaintiff created a false sense of security that interfered with the Plaintiff’s ability to appreciate the dangers of stepping down from the platform.

The court further ruled that there was an issue of fact as to whether the Defendant’s employees should have anticipated the danger to the Plaintiff given that the employees admitted that they did not think the pant length posed a tripping hazard and that the Plaintiff had never requested help in stepping down from the platform.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.  The companion Order can be viewed HERE.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Dec. 10, 2019).

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