In some lawsuits, plaintiffs can seek to hold careless business owners responsible for their negligence. In a recent case, Reyen v. Jones Lang Lasalle Americas, Inc. (D. Md. Sept. 7, 2016), an injured plaintiff filed a negligence claim against the owner of a bus company and the property manager of the bus station after she fell on an escalator. The matter was brought in the U.S. District Court of Maryland, which decided a motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants.
In Reyen, the plaintiff purchased a bus ticket from the defendant to travel from New York to Virginia on an itinerary with several bus changes. Due to a disability that required her to walk with a cane, the plaintiff notified the bus company in advance that she would need help with moving her luggage and getting on and off the buses. The bus company indicated that she would have assistance walking from one bus to the next. During one of the scheduled stops, the plaintiff looked for an elevator she could use but was unable to find one at the station, although they were in fact available. The plaintiff felt that she had no other choice but to ride an escalator, and as she took a step onto it, she fell backwards and sustained injuries.
A plaintiff alleging negligence must prove the applicable standard of care, a deviation from that standard by the defendant, and a causal relationship between the deviation and the injury. Generally, common carriers owe different standards of care to passengers and non-passengers. For passengers, common carriers must exercise reasonable care under the circumstances, including protecting passengers against assault, interference with the peaceful completion of their journey, and in certain situations, negligent acts of third parties. However, a common carrier owes no special duty of care to non-passengers, other than the general duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid injury.