Jan 23 2019

Courtroom Success 2019-1: Morrison Mahoney Partner Clark Yudysky and Associate Erin McKenna Obtain Summary Judgment in Providence Superior Court

Morrison Mahoney Partner Clark Yudysky and Associate Erin McKenna obtained a summary judgment in a Rhode Island premises liability case.

In this matter, plaintiff, a tenant in the defendant’s apartment complex, alleged that she tripped and fell due to a rocky uneven surface covered with rocks and shrubbery of various sizes and shapes located on the pathway in the backyard of the premises.  Plaintiff sustained personal injuries including head, neck, both hands and back as well as laceration to her forehead requiring stitches.

Plaintiff was deposed and admitted at deposition (1) that she did not know what caused her to fall and (2) that she had been told by the defendant’s representatives not to use the “pathway” behind the building.

On behalf of the defendant,  we filed a Motion for Summary Judgment based upon (1) plaintiff’s status as a trespasser and therefore the defendant owed her no duty and (2) that plaintiff could not establish proximate cause as she did not know what caused her to fall.

Plaintiff opposed our Motion for Summary with a Memorandum and Affidavit, pointing out that plaintiff’s Answers to Interrogatories stated that plaintiff tripped over rocks and the uneven surface and an Affidavit that directly contradicted her own deposition testimony.  In response, we filed a Motion to Strike plaintiff’s Affidavit and a Reply Memorandum.

We had a full hearing before the Court arguing that plaintiff was a trespasser and that the defendant did not owe her any duty as we were not aware that she had fallen behind the apartment complex.  After further argument, the Court agreed that plaintiff was a trespasser, the defendant was not aware of her fall so it had no duty and awarded summary judgment to the defendant.

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