Last month, an appellate court in Rhode Island issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that was brought by a tenant of an apartment complex who slipped and fell on a patch of black ice in the complex parking lot. At the conclusion of the plaintiff’s case against the complex’s management company, before the case was presented to the jury, the trial judge granted the defendant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law. The appellate court was tasked with determining whether the trial judge was proper to decide the case as a matter of law rather than submit the case to a jury for a factual resolution of the plaintiff’s claim.
The Appellate Court’s Decision
In the above case, the appellate court determined that the lower court was improper to decide the case as a matter of law. The court explained that there was evidence presented by the plaintiff indicating that the defendant may have been negligent. Specifically, the plaintiff testified that the defendant would plow any fallen snow in the parking lot to an area that was slightly above the level of the parking lot. Thus, when the snow melted, water would run onto the parking lot, where it could later re-freeze, creating a hazard. Indeed, the plaintiff also presented evidence, through his wife’s testimony, that he had complained about these ice patches on numerous occasions.
Judgment as a Matter of Law in Maryland Courts
In Maryland personal injury cases, it is the judge’s job to rule on all legal issues. For example, a judge will often determine which evidence the jury is able to consider and instruct the jury on the law that pertains to the case. The jury’s job is to then apply the law as explained by the judge to the facts of the case, resolving any factual disputes.
In some cases in which there are no factual disputes, and all of the issues in the case are legal in nature, a judge is able to resolve the case as a matter of law. These motions can be filed at various points throughout the trial, most notably before the trial begins in a motion for summary judgment or after the presentation of the plaintiff’s evidence in a motion for judgment as a matter of law.
Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Slip-and-Fall Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Maryland slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. While the general rule is that a landowner must have some knowledge of a hazard before he can be found liable, courts are willing to consider a defendant’s constructive knowledge of their property’s condition. This means that plaintiffs may not need to show that the defendant had actual knowledge of the hazard. To learn more about Maryland premises liability lawsuits, and to speak with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney about your case, contact the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers at 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Determines Zip-Line Is Not a “Dangerous Condition,” Upholding Government Immunity in Recent Personal Injury Case, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 22, 2017.
Maryland Appellate Court Holds That a Statute of Limitations May Be Tolled When a Defendant Fraudulently Conceals Important Evidence, Maryland Accident Law Blog, June 1, 2017.