Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Summary Judgment Based Upon Trivial Defect Doctrine Denied

In the case of Krieitzer v. Madison Acquisitions, LLC, No. 10767 of 2016, C.A. (C.P. Lawr. Co. April 9, 2020 Hodge, J.), the court denied a Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a trip and fall case in which the Defendants alleged that the defect to the sidewalk was a trivial defect.

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff fell on a sidewalk located on the Defendant’s premises and allegedly sustained injuries as a result. The Plaintiff sued the Defendants maintaining that the Defendants were negligent in failing to keep the sidewalk in good repair or otherwise failing to warn business invitees of any dangerous conditions. 

The Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and asserted that the trivial defect doctrine defeated the Plaintiff’s claims. 

The court reiterated the rule of law that a sidewalk defect could be found to be so trivial that a court, as a matter of law, could hold that a property owner was not negligent in allowing its existence. However, the court stated that there was no mathematical or bright-line rule in determining whether the depth of size of a sidewalk depression resulted in liability to a property owner. 

The court noted that, generally speaking, questions as to whether a sidewalk defect was trivial and whether the Defendant was negligent in allowing for the same to exist were typically to be submitted to the jury’s consideration. 

The Opinion noted that photographs of the unevenness with the sidewalks showed a gap of approximately an inch and a half. 

The court allowed this case to proceed to a jury based upon sufficient factual issues existing in the records to preclude the entry of summary judgment. 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this case may click this LINK

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (May 26, 2020).

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