Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued an opinion in a slip-and-fall case illustrating several important principles relevant to Maryland personal injury cases. The case presented the court with an opportunity to discuss what a plaintiff must establish in order to survive a summary judgment challenge by the defense. Here, the court held that since the plaintiff did not present any evidence that the defendant knew or should have known about the black ice that caused the plaintiff’s fall, summary judgment in favor of the defense was appropriate.
The plaintiff was injured as he got out of his car on the top level of a parking garage at the defendant hospital. The testimony at trial established that it had snowed several days that week and that there was visible ice and snow underneath some of the cars. However, the ice that caused the plaintiff’s fall was not visible. After his fall, hospital employees came to the plaintiff’s aid. One of the employees testified that she too had difficulty keeping her footing while on the icy pavement.
The hospital presented evidence that a security guard patrolled the area approximately every two hours. When the security officer noticed a snow or ice hazard, he was to call the hospital’s engineering department and remain on scene until an engineer arrived to clear the hazard. Evidence was presented that the area was patrolled that day about an hour and half before the plaintiff’s fall. Additionally, as per hospital policy, salt had been spread across the upper level of the parking garage to melt any ice that might have been present.