Premises Liability Case Fails Due to Lack of Evidence Showing Defendant’s Knowledge of Dangerous Condition

Last month, an appellate court in Michigan issued an opinion in a premises liability case, finding that the trial court was correct in granting summary judgment to the defendant, due to the plaintiff’s failure to present evidence of a required element of her claim. In the case, Lowrey v. LMPS & LMPJ, the court held that the burden is on the plaintiff to present evidence of each element of a claim,and the plaintiff’s failure to show that the defendant had knowledge of the dangerous condition that caused her fall required the dismissal of the case.

Rolled AnkleThe Facts

Lowrey was visiting the defendant restaurant on a snowy evening. On her way out of the restaurant, Lowrey slipped and fell on the steps leading into the parking lot, breaking two bones in her leg. Lowrey testified that she had traveled up and down the steps several times that night safely, but when she fell at the end of the night, the steps were wet and slick. She also testified that several other people had fallen on the steps that night. Lowrey filed a premises liability case against the restaurant, claiming it should be held responsible for her injuries, due to the restaurant’s negligence in maintaining the steps.

The defendant asked the trial court to dismiss the case, arguing that the plaintiff failed to present any evidence that the restaurant knew about the dangerous condition. The trial court agreed and granted the defendant’s motion. Lowrey appealed.

On the initial appeal, Lowrey was successful. That court determined that the defendant had failed to present evidence that it was unaware of the dangerous condition, and the case should not have been dismissed. The defendant then appealed to the state’s highest court.

The high court reversed the intermediate court of appeals, reinstating the trial judge’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion. The court explained that when a plaintiff is facing a motion for summary judgement, the plaintiff must present evidence supporting each element of the claim she is asserting. Here, one element of a premises liability case is the defendant’s knowledge of the dangerous condition that caused the plaintiff’s accident. Thus, the burden was not on the defendant to prove that such knowledge did not exist. Since the trial court applied the correct legal standard and reasonably determined that Lowrey presented insufficient evidence of the defendant’s knowledge, it was correct to grant the defendant’s motion.

Have You Been Injured in an Indiana Slip-and-Fall Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in an Indiana slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. It is important to keep in mind that every claim has certain elements that must be satisfied before a case can be submitted to a jury. Many times, defendants put considerable effort into getting a case dismissed at these early stages, and unaware plaintiffs may be caught off guard and in a position in which an otherwise meritorious case is at risk of dismissal for a failure to present certain evidence. The skilled injury attorneys at the Indiana law firm of Parr Richey Frandsen Patterson Kruse, LLP have the experience and dedication necessary to succeed in any Indiana personal injury case. Call 888-765-7411 to set up a free consultation today to discuss your case with a dedicated personal injury attorney.

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School Bus Accident Kills Six Students, Police Say Driver Was Likely Speeding, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, December 6, 2016