No Liability for Fall on Defective Sidewalk

This is a good example of why lawyers need to develop (and use!) checklists for trial.  When you file suit after a fall on a defective sidewalk, you need to be sure you can elicit testimony not just that the sidewalk was defective but that it caused the fall…

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Sometimes a slip and fall is really just a slip and fall…

The doctrine of res ipsa loquitur is a rule of evidence intended to assist the plaintiff who has no direct evidence of negligence by providing a way to have  circumstantial evidence considered when a plaintiff is trying to proof negligence.  The doctrine won’t save a case where there is simply no evidence of negligence, though. [Read more…]

Injured Patron Can’t Sue; Membership Agreement Waived Right

An exculpatory clause waives the right to sue.  A recent Court of Appeals case shows that it the waiver can be far broader than you may realize.  [Read more…]

Premises Liability Case Falls Short

Premises liability cases are often difficult, and the recent case of Mooney v. Genuine Parts Company d/b/a National Automotive Assoc illustrates [Read more…]

Court of Appeals Opinion Gives Guidance on Slip and Fall Cases

The recent Tennessee Court of Appeals opinion in Brown v. Mercer-Defriese  provides an excellent outline for proof to be presented in a premises liability action involving allegations of an unreasonably dangerous step.

Nancy Brown, was at a rental property owned by Nancy Mercer-Defriese and Spencer Defriese, viewing the property as a prospective tenant. She tripped over a three-inch “step” or “threshold,” and as a result suffered serious injuries including a broken hip and femur. She then filed a premises liability action, alleging that the step was an unreasonably dangerous and defective condition that caused her to fall.

A jury trial occurred. Plaintiff presented her own testimony and the testimony of a professional engineer, Clarkson Lee Mason. In addition to their own testimony, Defendants presented the testimony of Tim Dodd, a professional engineer, and Dallas Y. Rucker, the building official for the City of Chattanooga.

At the close of the proof, Defendants moved for a directed verdict, which the trial court granted. The trial court found that it was not reasonably foreseeable under the circumstances that Plaintiff would trip over the step and further found that the condition of the step was open and obvious and should have been seen by Plaintiff. Lastly, the trial court found that there was no duty to warn the Plaintiff of the condition of the step.  Ms. Brown appealed.

Ruling:

The sole issue on appeal was whether the trial court erred in granting a directed verdict for the Defendants. The Court characterized the “fundamental” issue as whether Plaintiff presented sufficient evidence from which a juror could reasonably find that the step was unreasonably dangerous or defective. The Court held that Plaintiff did submit such evidence. [Read more…]