Recently, the California Appellate Court reversed a judgment in favor of a defendant hotel after a plaintiff sued the hotel for breaching their duty of care by setting up a stage in a way that created a dangerous gap and eventually led to her falling and injuring herself. In this California premises liability lawsuit, which alleged claims of negligence and premises liability, the court analyzed whether the defendant had met their burden on summary judgment. After analyzing the defendant’s supporting evidence, the court held that they had failed to carry their burden of showing that they had not breached their duty of care.
The plaintiff had attended a banquet at the defendant hotel, and while standing onstage, she stepped behind her and fell into a gap between the stage and the wall. The plaintiff suffered broken bones in her foot and ligament damage. In her legal claim against the hotel, she claimed that hotel employees were negligent in installing the stage and that the hotel breached its duty of care by failing to warn her of the dangerous condition.
After the defendant moved for summary judgment, they submitted the declaration of an architect who had been hired to evaluate whether the stage met safety standards. The hotel defendant also submitted declarations from employees who stated they had no notice of anyone falling from the back of the stage in previous events. In opposition, the plaintiff argued there remained triable issues of material fact as to whether there had been a dangerous condition by setting the stage on a diagonal and whether the hotel had breached its duty of care by failing to warn her of the dangers posed by falling.