In a personal injury lawsuit before the California Court of Appeal, a man alleged he suffered injuries when he slipped and fell at Dodger Stadium. The court analyzed whether the Dodgers had knowledge of a dangerous condition and could be held liable.
Plaintiff Fernando Maravilla fell in an aisle during a game at Dodger Stadium. He then brought a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Dodgers moved for summary judgment, noting inconsistencies in Mr. Maravilla’s story about the occurrences and whether he had been standing or walking when he fell.
Mr. Maravilla testified that food items had been lying on the stairs for “a long time.” He then stated he did not know exactly how long the food had been on the ground. He claimed he did not see himself step on the bag containing the food items, and no one told him that he did so.
Lon Rosenberg, the Dodgers’ vice-president of operations at the time of the incident, stated that he and his staff conduct walk-throughs to assure seating areas and aisles are clean and free from hazards. Groups of employees inspect the premises constantly once the gates are opened.
The trial court entered judgment for the Dodgers, finding that they lacked actual knowledge of a dangerous condition, and they exercised reasonable care in inspecting the stadium.
On appeal, the court stated that a business owner must exercise reasonable care in keeping its premises safe, but it does not insure the safety of its patrons. For liability to exist, there must be evidence supporting a finding that it is more likely than not that the conduct of the defendant caused the result. The possibility of such causation is not enough.
Here, there was no evidence that the Dodgers had actual knowledge of the fallen foodstuff in the aisle where Maravilla allegedly fell. Regarding their constructive knowledge, the court stated that Lon Rosenberg made clear that he and his staff inspect for hazardous conditions before the game. During the game, inspections are conducted “constantly,” and spills are cleaned up immediately.
Mr. Maravilla had the burden of producing evidence that the dangerous condition existed long enough for the Dodgers to have constructive knowledge of the hazardous condition. But he did not provide evidence to rebut the Dodgers’ facts. Mr. Maravilla did not try to show that employees did not monitor during games. Furthermore, the court stated that Mr. Maravilla had no idea how long the food had been lying on the ground. There was no evidence that anyone else had stepped on the food items. The court stated Mr. Maravilla did not identify any eyewitness with knowledge that the food remained there long enough for the staff to discover and remove it. The court stated there was no evidence that the Dodgers had actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition on their property.
The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.
At Sharifi Firm, our Southern California personal injury attorneys provide guidance and representation to injured individuals pursuing claims for compensation. We offer a no-obligation, free consultation and can be reached by calling 1-866-422-7222.
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