The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland recently ruled on an appeal in a personal injury claim that was halted when the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant. In Geibel v. Z Best Limousine Serv., Inc. (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Mar. 3, 2016), the plaintiff was a passenger in a limousine operated by the defendant. The interior floor of the limousine was hardwood, over which a custom-made carpet with rubber backing was cut to fit the floorboard of the limo. When the plaintiff exited the limousine, the carpet slipped, and she fell to the ground outside of the limo. The plaintiff brought suit against the defendant for injuries she sustained as a result of the fall.
After discovery was complete, the defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that there was no evidence that the carpet runner in the limousine was in an unsafe condition or that the defendant had any knowledge of an allegedly unsafe condition. In addition, there had been no other accidents in the limousine in which other passengers had slipped on the carpet, or reports of any other problems with the carpet not being secure. The trial court granted the motion on the basis that there was no evidence that the defendant was aware or had reason to be aware of any defect in the carpet.
In Maryland, the duty that an owner of property owes to persons entering onto the property varies according to the visitor’s status as an invitee, a licensee by invitation (i.e., a social guest), a bare licensee, or a trespasser. The highest duty is owed to a business invitee, defined as one invited or permitted to enter another’s property for purposes related to the landowner’s business. In Geibel, the plaintiff was an invitee, and as such, the defendant owed her a duty to use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the limousine safe, and to protect the plaintiff from injury caused by an unreasonable risk, which the plaintiff, by exercising ordinary care for her own safety, would not discover.
On appeal, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment. The court reasoned that the testimony of the defendant, who had worked with the limo at issue for four years prior to the plaintiff’s accident, indicated that to his knowledge, no one had ever fallen inside the limousine, nor had anyone ever reported a concern about an unsafe condition. As there was no testimony from the defendant or anyone else establishing that the defendant had knowledge that the carpet had, in fact, ever moved unexpectedly, or that the carpet posed an unreasonable risk to passengers, the court explained that a jury could not have reasonably inferred that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of a dangerous condition.
If you have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another person or business, you may be able to pursue compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, and other damages. The Maryland attorneys at Foran & Foran have experience representing accident victims in a variety of cases, including auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, premises liability, medical malpractice, and more. To discuss your claim with one of our personal injury attorneys, call us at (301) 441-2022 or through our website.
More Blog Posts:
Court of Appeals of Maryland Finds Underinsured Motorist Policy Applicable in Single Vehicle Car Accident Settlement Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published July 15, 2015
Maryland Court Reviews Appeal in Car Accident Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published December 10, 2015