In a recent case before a state appellate court, a plaintiff’s premises liability claim against a fast-food restaurant manager was dismissed based on the plaintiff’s failure to present sufficient evidence that the manager’s negligence resulted in her injuries. In rejecting the plaintiff’s claims, the court explained that a plaintiff must present evidence more than “mere speculation” as to how her injury occurred.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff slipped and fell as she was entering a fast-food restaurant managed by the defendant. According to the court’s recitation of the facts, the restaurant’s entrance consists of a set of double doors. On her way into the restaurant, the plaintiff made it through the first set of doors without a problem, but she was unable to open the second set of doors. She testified that she was shaking the door, trying to get it to open, when she fell.
After her fall, she noticed that the ground around her was damp and that a rug in the foyer area where she fell was wet. However, when asked, she could not remember exactly what happened in the moments before her fall. Specifically, she stated that “it just happened so fast . . . I just remember pushing on the door, and the next thing I remember is just sitting there.”
The restaurant manager explained that he was not aware of any problem with the door, and it hadn’t been recently serviced or repaired. He moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to present any evidence of what caused her fall. The trial judge agreed, granting the manager’s motion.
The Appellate Court Affirms the Lower Court’s Decision
On appeal, the plaintiff argued that the lower court was incorrect in its holding. She argued that in making the summary judgment determination, all of the evidence should be construed in her favor as the non-moving party, and when so viewed, there was sufficient evidence to find that the defendant’s negligence caused her fall. The appellate court agreed that the evidence should be construed in favor of the plaintiff, but it disagreed with her argument.
The court explained that in order to survive a summary judgment challenge, a plaintiff must provide evidence of causation. Here, the court held, the plaintiff could not remember what caused her fall, and her claim that the fall was due to the defendant’s negligence was “mere speculation.” Thus, the lower court was right to grant the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.
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 personal injury attorneys at the Maryland-based law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of experience helping victims seek the compensation they need and deserve. We skillfully handle cases throughout the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. areas. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up your free consultation.
More Blog Posts:
Court Reversed $1.2 Million Verdict in Wrongful Death Case, Based on Plaintiff’s Untrue Statements, Maryland Accident Law Blog, January 16, 2017.
Court Allows Premises Liability Plaintiff to Seek Punitive Damages, Maryland Accident Law Blog, February 1, 2017.