Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case involving a plaintiff’s conflicting testimony, requiring the court to determine which version of the plaintiff’s testimony to credit. The case presents a valuable lesson for Maryland slip-and-fall accident plaintiffs in that it illustrates how courts analyze cases in which a party offers two versions of the same event. Ultimately, in this case, the court concluded that the version of the facts that least favored the plaintiff should be credited, resulting in the court granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was an office manager at a tax-preparation business that was located in a business owned by the defendant. One day, the plaintiff arrived to open the store and went toward the back office to turn on the lights. As the plaintiff approached the rear of the office, she slipped after stepping in a puddle of water that had accumulated on the floor.
When asked in a pre-trial interrogatory, the plaintiff explained that it was not raining on the day of her accident. She also explained that she was aware of previous flooding and, in fact, knew that the office flooded the night before her fall. However, an employee had cleaned up the water by the time the plaintiff had left.
During trial, the plaintiff testified that it was raining on the day of the accident and that it had rained the day before as well. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff was in a better position to guard against the dangers of the puddle because she had greater knowledge of the danger. The court granted the defendant’s motion, crediting the plaintiff’s statement that it had rained on the day of the accident.
The plaintiff appealed, arguing that a material issue of fact existed as to whether it was raining on the day of the accident. The court, however, rejected the plaintiff’s argument, noting that conflicting testimony should be resolved against the party making the statement unless a good explanation is given for the contradiction. Here, the court held, the plaintiff was unable to offer a reason for the conflict in her testimony, so the court was proper to credit the plaintiff’s statement that it was raining on the day of the accident. That being the case, there was no conflict between the plaintiff’s testimony and the defendant’s, and the court agreed with the defendant that the plaintiff had greater knowledge of the hazard than the defendant.
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. The dedicated Maryland personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have extensive experience representing victims and their families in a wide range of matters, including slip-and-fall accidents. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Rejects Plaintiff’s Premises Liability Case Because Hazard Was “Open and Obvious”, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 18, 2018.
Court Discusses Admissibility of Social Media Evidence in Recent Personal Injury Case, Maryland Accident Law Blog, April 2, 2018.