Sep 27 2018

Courtroom Success 2018-36: Morrison Mahoney Partner Joe Desmond and Associate Jon Blanton Prevail on Motion for Summary Judgment

Partner Joe Desmond and Associate Jon Blanton recently prevailed on a motion for summary judgment.  The plaintiff commenced an action seeking to recover damages for injuries that she sustained while exiting an elevator.  Our client was an elevator service company that contracted with the property owner to provide monthly examinations and lubrications, minor adjustments as necessary, and prepare the elevator for annual state safety inspections.  On the date in question, the plaintiff claimed that the elevator and the floor were uneven while she was exiting which caused her to trip and fall.  She further alleged that this malfunction occurred the night prior to the subject incident and that our client received a service call to assess but did not respond.

At the close of discovery, we filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that (1) our client did not owe a duty to immediately respond to a service call, (2)  that there was no evidence our client breached the contract with the property owner, and (3) that the record was devoid of any evidence suggesting the cause of the malfunction, let alone any evidence that our client contributed or caused the elevator to malfunction.  The plaintiff attempted to point to the service call noted above and argued that there was a mutual understanding between the property owner and our client that our client was required to respond to calls in a “timely” fashion thereby imposing a legal duty.  The court disagreed and noted that this “understanding” had no legal effect.  Ultimately, the court agreed with our arguments as to duty and causation and entered judgment accordingly.

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