Appellate Court Reverses Ruling in Favor of Defendant in Slip-and-Fall Case

The Michigan Supreme Court recently published an opinion reversing an appellate court decision that had overturned a trial court’s granting of summary judgment to the defendant in a slip-and-fall lawsuit filed after the plaintiff fell outside the defendant’s restaurant on a snowy night. The high court determined that the trial court was initially correct to determine that to be awarded summary judgment on the plaintiff’s claim, the defendant did not need to affirmatively prove they did not have notice of the dangerous condition causing the plaintiff’s fall. Based on the most recent decision, the plaintiff will not be compensated for her injuries, regardless of whether the defendant actually knew of the hazard that caused her injuries.

The Plaintiff Slips on a Staircase Outside the Defendant’s Bar

The plaintiff in the case of Lowery v. Woody’s Diner was a woman who was having drinks with friends at the defendant’s bar on a snowy night when she fell in front of the restaurant. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff fell and broke two bones while she was standing outside the restaurant having a cigarette with a friend.

After she was injured, the plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that the defendant failed to maintain safe premises by allowing hazardous conditions to develop, specifically a slippery staircase.

The Trial Court Grants the Defendant’s Summary Judgment Motion

In response to the plaintiff’s claim for damages, the defendant denied liability. The defendant claimed that it had no notice that a hazardous condition existed at the time and could therefore not be held responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries. The trial court accepted the defendant’s motion and ruled in its favor, finding that the plaintiff did not raise any issue that the defendant had notice of the condition at the time. The plaintiff appealed the initial ruling, and it was reversed by the state court of appeals. That court ruled that the defendant had the burden to prove that they were not on notice of a dangerous condition in order to obtain summary judgment at that stage of the proceeding.

The State Supreme Court Sets the Law Straight

The state’s supreme court reversed the appellate court’s ruling, emphasizing that in a premises liability claim, the plaintiff has the burden of proving that the defendant was on actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition in order to have a valid claim for damages. Based on the contents of the plaintiff’s complaint, the state supreme court reinstated the summary judgment ruling in favor of the defendant, holding that the plaintiff did not raise a genuine issue of fact that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of the hazardous condition before she was injured. Therefore, the plaintiff will not be entitled to seek compensation for her injuries.

Florida Premises Liability Notice Requirements

Section 768.0755 of Florida statutory law requires that plaintiffs filing a Florida premises liability claim prove that a defendant had actual or constructive notice of a foreign substance or hazardous condition that resulted in the plaintiff’s injury in order to recover damages on a negligence claim. A South Florida slip-and-fall victim should consult with a local personal injury attorney who understands the requirements of a successful slip-and-fall premises claim before proceeding with their case.

Have You Been Injured?

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed by a dangerous condition or foreign substance on another party’s property, you may have a legal claim for damages. The South Florida negligence attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank help accident victims seek the compensation they deserve. Life after an accident can be difficult for both the victims and their families. Contact us for a free consultation with a South Florida accident attorney to discuss your premises liability case today. Call our office at 877-448-8585 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Rejection of Plaintiff’s Slip-and-Fall Case Affirmed by Appellate Court on Review, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 28, 2016.

Plaintiff in Defective Tire Wrongful Death Case Will Not Have Evidence Excluded for Spoliation, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published January 4, 2017.

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