Articles Posted in Slip & Fall

In a lawsuit for negligence and premises liability, the California Court of Appeals concluded that the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants because they had no notice of the allegedly dangerous condition.  In this opinion, the court analyzed the elements of a premises liability claim and assessed whether the plaintiff had met her burden of showing that the defendants had notice of the stairwayallegedly dangerous step in their home.

The plaintiff in this case was touring a home offered for sale when she fell on a stair and injured herself. The stair was one step down into a living room, approximately 5.6 inches in elevation change. At the time of her fall, the defendants, including the homeowners and their real estate agents, were not in the house.  In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants (the real estate agent, as well as her husband, a broker) knew or should have known that the dangerous condition (which was the step-down change in elevation of a single stair) created an unreasonable risk of harm.  Her complaint alleged that the defendants failed to remedy the condition or failed to adequately warn of the condition. The defendants moved for summary judgment on the ground that the step was open and obvious, and the defendants did not have a duty to warn.  They also contended that the step had not presented any danger, and they had no notice of any dangerous condition.

The trial court entered summary judgment for the defendants, persuaded that the homeowners did not have notice that the step inside their home constituted a dangerous condition requiring a warning. As a result, the court found they had no duty, and the other real estate defendants should be granted summary judgment.

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The California Court of Appeal, Second District, affirmed a verdict in favor of the City of Los Angeles after an injured individual alleged the City had been negligent and was liable for injuries sustained while walking on a public sidewalk on West 89th Street.  Turning to the notice requirement set forth in Government Code section 835, the codefecturt in this opinion assessed whether the plaintiff had been prejudiced by the trial court’s exclusion of certain testimony concerning the uplift in a sidewalk that constituted an allegedly dangerous condition.  The court found the testimony that had been excluded was irrelevant to proving constructive notice, and it upheld the jury’s verdict in favor of the City.

The plaintiff in this case hurt her foot while walking on the sidewalk when, allegedly, the roots of a tree next to the sidewalk created a crack that uplifted a section several inches, causing her to hit her foot on this “uplift.”  Within a year of the date of the accident, the plaintiff brought a tort claim against the City, alleging a dangerous condition of the sidewalk led to her injury.

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Recently, a California Court of Appeal issued an unpublished opinion in a premises liability and negligence lawsuit brought by an individual who suffered a serious fall in an AMC movie theater bathroom. The appellate court, on review, assessed whether the plaintiff’s evidence showed conduct constituting negligence, based on premises liability. After assessing the facts and testimony, the court held that the plaintiff had merely shown conjecture or speculation, and this would not be sufficient to allow a reasonable jury to find the defendants knew of a dangerous condition on their premises.

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The facts of this case indicated that the plaintiff had been found on the restroom floor, next to a urinal that had occasionally malfunctioned by overflowing. There were no substances found on the floor aside from the plaintiff’s blood.

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The California Court of Appeal recently addressed whether the owner of a restaurant owed a duty to protect against harm caused by removing a snow grate. In this opinion, the court emphasized the balancing test of the foreseeability of harm against the burden imposed on a proprietor to protect against potential harm. In this case, the lower court had held the owner hasnow grated no duty to take additional preventative measures, since third parties had not formerly removed the grate. The appellate court affirmed the judgment in favor of the restaurant, holding that the plaintiff had not shown the removal of the grate was reasonably foreseeable, and therefore, there was no triable issue regarding the owner’s duty to undertake preventative measures.

After falling through a snow grate that had been removed near the entrance and exit to a restaurant, the plaintiff in this case brought causes of action against the restaurant owner for negligence and premises liability. In his complaint, the plaintiff alleged the owner breached its duty to avoid harm to patrons. The complaint also alleged that it was reasonably foreseeable that third parties would engage in pranks, vandalism, or malicious conduct, unless the premises were secured, since the premises had a history of such misconduct.

The facts indicated that individuals congregated near the public door on the deck, removed the snow grate, and exposed the opening in the deck. This opening is where the plaintiff fell when he stepped out of the door, about nine seconds after the grate was removed.  Security guards were on duty that evening, but they did not see the fall take place.

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In a recent unpublished opinion regarding an underlying premises liability lawsuit, the California Court of Appeal upheld a judgment in favor of a Southern California supermarket chain after the plaintiff alleged a defective floor caused her to slip and fall and suffer injuries. The court reviewed the evidence presented before the trial court, relying on the rule ogrocery storef law that states that property owners are not responsible for defects that are deemed “trivial” as a matter of law.  In this lawsuit, the plaintiff had not shown the defect to be material, and her opposition to the defendant supermarket’s motion for summary judgment did not create a triable issue of material fact.

The plaintiff brought a lawsuit against Hughes Markets, Inc. dba Ralphs. She alleged premises liability and negligence. Ralphs moved for summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court. The plaintiff appealed.

The facts indicated that while the plaintiff was exiting a Ralphs Store in Sherman Oaks, she slipped and fell.  She filed this complaint and contended that the floor was uneven and defective. In their summary judgment motion, Ralphs argued the floor defect was trivial as a matter of law. They supported their motion with a declaration of the former store manager, who had inspected and measured the floor.  The plaintiff relied on a declaration by a civil engineer in support of her opposition to summary judgment. Ralphs alleged that they could not be found liable because there was no condition that created a substantial risk of injury. They argued that the floor defect was trivial.

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In a recent opinion, the California Court of Appeals upheld summary judgment in favor of a fitness center following allegations of gross negligence after an individual slipped and fell in the shower facilities. The court heldshower there were no genuine issues of material fact, and the Release and Waiver of Liability and Indemnity was valid and a complete defense to the negligence cause of action that was alleged in the first amended complaint.

Plaintiff Kirk Anderson, in his early 60s, signed a membership agreement at L.A. Fitness, a health club in Glendale.  The language of the agreement included a release and waiver of liability and indemnity.  He suffered injuries at the health club when he went to shower and slipped and fell on the floor, eventually requiring surgery to repair his humerus.

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In this recent opinion, the California Court of Appeals addressed an appeal brought by the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit following a fall from the steps outside his apartment complex.  The court reviewed the rules of law concerning damages and held that substantial evidence supported the jury’s award. staircase

Plaintiff Kazimierz Sokol brought a lawsuit for personal injuries after suffering injuries on stairs outside his apartment.  Defendant Anna K. Rosciszewski, his landlord, stipulated that she had been negligent. After a trial, the jury found Ms. Rosciszewski’s negligence was a substantial cause of Mr. Sokol’s injuries. They awarded Mr. Sokol damages of $36,474.89 for past medical expenses and $5,000 for past pain and suffering. Mr. Sokol was not awarded any damages for future losses.

Mr. Sokol appealed, contending that the damages award was inadequate as a matter of law.  The court reviewed the medical bills as well as the opinions of a vocational rehabilitation counselor and a damages expert. At issue was whether substantial evidence supported the jury’s verdict.

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In a recent appeal of an underlying premises liability lawsuit, a California court affirmed a judgment in favor of the owner of a winery after the injured plaintiff alleged she fell and suffered injuries. Noting that there is no bright line rule regarding whether a condition is dangerous or defective, the court stated that an alleged defect is not trivial if it would be sufficiently dangerous to a reasonably careful person.

In this case, plaintiff Lorna Good allegedly fell at a winery and suffered injuries, fracturing her foot and wrist.  The winery was wineryowned by OGB Partners, and Ms. Good had been to the location 10 to 12 times in the previous nine months. On a warm, clear evening, while watching a concert, Ms. Good fell while wearing four-inch stiletto heels.

Ms. Good brought a lawsuit against OGB for premises liability and general negligence.  OGB moved for summary judgment, submitting photographs and contending that the patio had been well-lit on the night of the alleged accident. The trial court heard arguments on the summary judgment motions and ultimately granted the motion in favor of OGB. The court stated that summary judgment is to be granted when the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Defendants moving for summary judgment must show one or more elements of the plaintiff’s cause of action cannot be established, or there is a complete defense.

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Recently, a California Court of Appeal addressed whether a lower court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants, a supermarket and a contractor involved in sidewalk construction, in a premises liability lawsuit. At issue in this case was whether the condition marketof the sidewalk outside the market was a dangerous condition.  This first step in the analysis also required consideration of whether the condition was open and obvious, since property owners are not generally liable for those conditions that a reasonable person would avoid.

Plaintiff Jessica Overwise brought a premises liability lawsuit against Vons Companies, Inc. and John M. Frank Construction, Inc.  Ms. Overwise was injured outside a Vons supermarket in Pacific Palisades when she stepped on the edge of the curb near a warning strip and twisted her ankle, falling forward and suffering a broken wrist and bruising over her entire body. She filed a lawsuit against Vons, alleging premises liability and negligence, and then she amended the complaint to add the contractor responsible for constructing the sidewalk, Frank Construction.

Both Frank Construction and Vons moved for summary judgment. Frank Construction contended that Ms. Overwise alleged a design defect rather than a construction defect. Vons argued that the warning strip where Ms. Overwise fell was not a dangerous condition as a matter of law, and if it was, it was open and obvious, or a trivial defect.

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In the second appeal in a slip and fall lawsuit, the California Court of Appeal addressed whether the plaintiffs had unreasonably delayed in adding the sub-lessors of the property in which the alleged incident took place to the lawsuit. The issue was when the plaintiffs knew of facts that gave rise to a cause of action against the defendants, and whether the newly named defendants demonstrated prejudice by the late amendment.

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Oscar Albillo and his wife, Blanca Albilla, brought a lawsuit against Ports O’Call Village after Oscar tripped and fell at the entrance to the Ports O’Call Restaurant Corporation (POC).  The Albillos’ complaint alleged negligence and loss of consortium. The case went to trial in 2014, and the court granted POC’s motion for a nonsuit on the ground that the accident took place on property sub-leased by POC to Sam and Sung Cho. The court found the Albillos did not prove POC, the landlord, had actual notice of the dangerous condition.

Before the trial court granted POC’s motion for nonsuit, the Albillos moved to amend their complaint to substitute the Chos as Doe defendants.  The Chos moved to strike the amendment, and the court granted the motion.  On appeal, the issue was whether the Albillos knew enough facts to give rise to a cause of action against the Chos, and whether the Chos presented sufficient evidence of prejudice by the belated amendment.

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