Articles Posted in Premises Liability

A Connecticut resident filed suit for negligence after injuring herself while walking to the Danbury Hospital parking lot. She prevailed during a bench trial, and the defendant appealed. The Connecticut Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision, which may be interesting to Massachusetts slip and fall claimants as well.

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In June 2010, the victim and her daughter were visiting the victim’s husband, who was being treated at Danbury Hospital. After their visit, they exited the hospital’s main building and walked onto a walkway leading toward the parking lot. They were familiar with this walkway, since they had made this same trip several times in the past.

While they were walking along the pathway, the victim hit something with her foot and fell to the ground. As a result of the fall, she sustained injuries to her right foot and ankle. It later was determined that she had broken her big toe and damaged the fifth metatarsal of her right foot. Within minutes of the fall, she was taken to Danbury’s emergency room, where she was examined and treated for her injuries. As a result of her fall, she experienced chronic lower back pain from a protruded disc that required several epidural steroid injections and, eventually, a surgical decompression procedure. The lower court ruled for the victim following a bench trial.

A Philadelphia woman who filed a federal lawsuit following an elevator accident recently settled with the defendants. Last month, a U.S. District Court Judge announced the action was dismissed with prejudice, pursuant to an agreement.

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The plaintiff sued the elevator company, the property manager of the building, and the building’s owner. The amount of the settlement was undisclosed.

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A Holyoke family who narrowly escaped death during a January 1 fire filed suit for negligence on February 16 in Hampden Superior Court. Three victims were killed and 50 people were left homeless after the wild fire ravaged the four-story apartment building.

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Investigators decided the fire began when a wall outlet inside an apartment unit malfunctioned. The building was not equipped with sprinklers. (However, Massachusetts law did not require it to have a sprinkler system.) The investigators also concluded that the alarm system lost the connection to its monitoring company about a day prior to the fire. Thus, when the fire broke out, the alarms activated, but no signal was sent to the monitoring company. Accordingly, there was up to a 20-minute delay before the fire department was alerted t0 the fire.

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Two plaintiffs filed suit, alleging that one of them fell at the Northshore Mall as a result of slipping on water. The plaintiffs alleged that this water was on the mall floor, due to the negligence of the defendant, which was responsible for watering the plants located in the mall. A Superior Court judge granted summary judgment to all of the defendants. The plaintiffs appealed.

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Applying the traditional approach to slip and fall cases, the lower court held that the plaintiffs failed to present any evidence that would allow a reasonable jury to conclude that the defendants knew or should have known that the substance on which the plaintiff allegedly slipped was on the mall floor. The appeals court agreed.

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Plaintiff Eric Halbach suffered serious injuries when he tripped on uneven pavement on a public sidewalk next to a building owned by the defendants. Halbach and his wife, Kathleen, subsequently sued, alleging that the defendants had a duty to either repair the sidewalk or warn pedestrians and the city of Boston of the hazard. Concluding that no such duty exists, a judge of the Superior Court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The appeals court affirmed. sidewalk

In June 2009, Halbach was walking on Clarendon Street in the city, near the John Hancock garage. He tripped and fell on uneven pavement on a part of the sidewalk next to the garage, sustaining significant injuries as a result. The sidewalk where Halbach fell is owned by the city. At the time of the fall, the commercial property adjacent to the sidewalk was owned by defendant 100 & 200 Clarendon Street LLC and maintained by defendant Normandy Real Estate. After the incident, Normandy hired a company to grind down the uneven payment at a cost of $798.

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The Massachusetts Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court’s grant of summary judgment to a defendant hotel owner when there was no genuine factual dispute regarding the foreseeability of the unsafe condition causing the plaintiff’s fall.

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Plaintiff Frances Amara attended a conference at a Sheraton Hotel owned by the defendant. On her second trip to the restroom, Amara slipped and fell on the ceramic floor, injuring herself. She placed her hands on the floor to get up, which became very wet from a foamy substance. She also noticed the smell of something akin to furniture polish. After she reported her fall, Sheraton personnel noticed an oily substance on the bathroom floor and the smell of furniture polish. A can of furniture polish, labeled “Radiance,” was located in a cabinet beneath the sink of the bathroom, “without a cap and dripping product.” France and her husband filed suit.

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A Massachusetts appeals court recently reversed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment to a defendant retail store following the plaintiff’s injury in the store, despite admitting that the plaintiff did not have a very strong case. pallets

Defendant Boys in Berries, LLC operates a farm and retail store in Sharon, Massachusetts. In July 2010, Maria Belanger arrived at the farm store with her husband, Ray, entering the store while her husband stayed in the car. Belanger selected a few items to purchase and went to check out. At the end of the checkout counter was a large cardboard box placed on top of a wood pallet. The box and pallet were directly adjacent to the end of the checkout counter, set back several inches from the vertical surface of the counter. From the checkout line, the top of the box was visible, but the square pallet on which it rested could not be seen. While in line, Belanger noted that the box was octagonal.

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