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ZK Result – Attorney Aaron Weiss Obtains Summary Judgment for Lack of Notice in Slip and Fall Case

(Mercer County, PA) (April 2019). In April of 2019 Zimmer Kunz attorney Aaron Weiss obtained Summary Judgment in favor of the defendant hotel before Judge St. John of Mercer County.

Plaintiff, a hotel guest, filed suit against the hotel for Negligence arising out of a slip and fall in April of 2016. During discovery, Plaintiff asserted that she slipped on debris from the ceiling that must have fallen during her shower.

The defense filed Summary Judgment arguing that Plaintiff failed to present any evidence to establish that the hotel had actual or constructive notice of any alleged defect in the ceiling, as is required to establish the element of duty. Plaintiff responded by asserting that it could use the theory of res ipsa loquitor to avoid the necessity of proving notice.

After briefing and oral arguments, Judge St. John authored a Memorandum Opinion in which he held that res ipsa loquitor does not apply to transitory dangers as a matter of law. He explained that the debris alleged to have caused Plaintiff’s fall was analogous to “a transitory danger in a store” and thus “Defendant could not have discovered the fallen debris before Plaintiff stepped out of the shower and suffered her slip and fall.” See Opinion, pp. 4-5. Furthermore “res ipsa loquitor does not apply to prove the negligence of shopkeepers because shopkeepers cannot be charged with notice of transitory dangers that can materialize a split second before an injury occurs[.]” Id. p. 3. Finally, with regard to hotels specifically, the Court found the case of Demisew v. Coakley & Williams Hotel Mgmt. Co., 2017 WL 3484323 (Pa. Super. Aug. 15, 2017) (unpublished) to be persuasive because there, a hotel was granted summary judgment after “plaintiff did not present any evidence that the hotel should have had constructive notice of the alleged [slippery] condition[.]” Id. at p. 4. Ultimately, based upon this Memorandum Opinion, a Final Order was entered dismissing this case in its entirety on April 3, 2019.

This Memorandum Opinion can be found at Latimore v. Star Properties Inc. d/b/a Quality Inn, No. 2017-3346 (C.P. Mercer, Feb. 5, 2019), and is available to view at the link below: