Friday, June 23, 2023

Summary Judgment Granted in Slip and Fall Case -- Mere Happening of an Incident Does Not Equal Liability

In the case of Harkins v. Three Monkeys Cronydon, Inc., No. 2019-CV-03333 (C.P. Bucks Co. April 18, 2023 McHugh, J.), the court issued a Rule 1925 Opinion to explain its rationale to the Superior Court in terms of its entry of summary judgment in this slip and fall case.

In its Opinion, the trial court emphasized that the existence of a harmful condition and/or the happening of an accident, in and of themselves, do not automatically establish a breach of the landowner’s breach of care.

The court found that the Plaintiff had failed to provide evidence to specifically identify exactly what caused the Plaintiff to fall. It was also noted that the Plaintiff failed to provide evidence that the Defendant knew or should have known about any alleged condition and/or that the Defendant failed to exercise reasonable care to protect invitees from an alleged danger.

With respect to the Plaintiff’s offer of expert testimony on the liability issues, the court noted that the admission of such testimony was at the discretion of the trial court. In this matter, the court found that the Plaintiffs’ expert’s opinion was deficient, and that the opinion offered by the expert was lacking any specialized knowledge beyond that of a layperson. The court also found that the expert failed to provide sufficient scientific authority to support the expert’s opinions.

With regards to the Plaintiff’s claim of spoliation relative to any video surveillance of the incident, the court found that the deletion of video surveillance footage under the Defendant’s standard policy did not constitute spoliation because there was no evidence presented to suggest that the footage that was deleted was relevant in determining the case of the Plaintiff’s fall.

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (June 13, 2023).

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