Maryland Court of Special Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment in Slip and Fall Case

In a recent slip and fall case, Zilichikhis v. Montgomery County, Md. Ct. Sp. App. (2015), the Maryland Court of Special Appeals had before it a case arising out of an 82-year-old man’s slip and fall inside a parking garage owned and operated by a governmental agency.

The plaintiff had been attempting to walk to his car, which was parked in a parking garage. As he approached his vehicle, he slipped and fell twice. Shortly thereafter, he started complaining of a severe headache. He was taken to the hospital to seek emergency medical treatment, where he was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma that required immediate surgery. The plaintiff continues to suffer various impairments as a result of his traumatic brain injury.

After he filed suit, the county claimed immunity from suit as a governmental agency, and also a lack of liability due to the fact that it was not on actual or constructive notice regarding the presence of the alleged oil. They cited to the fact that the plaintiff had claimed he had not seen the oil on the ground the night before, when he parked his car, and also that he claimed it smelled fresh when he fell and he had gotten it onto his hand.

The plaintiffs submitted photos of the scene and also an affidavit from a safety expert, which stated that in his opinion, the oil depicted had been present in that location for a significant period of time:  some 36-48 hours. He further stated that the spill should easily have been discovered in the course of a safety walk through.

Despite that evidence, the county stated that the plaintiff still failed to demonstrate that it was on actual or constructive notice.

The lower court failed to admit the photographs into evidence, since it was unclear whether they could be properly authenticated or not, and there was some dispute as to whether they accurately depicted the area where the plaintiff claimed to initially have fallen. The plaintiff’s attorney had earlier claimed that the plaintiff’s statement regarding the fall may not have been reliable, due to his native language barriers, the fact that he suffered a head injury, and the fact that he may have been confused at the time due to the falls.

Essentially, though, the Court of Special Appeals agreed with the Circuit Court that, since the plaintiff failed to establish how long the spill had been there, he could not prove the necessary elements to establish the defendants’ purported negligence.

Lastly, regarding the government’s purported immunity in operating the parking garage, the court agreed with the lower court’s decision that the garage was not operated for a profit, among other considerations. Therefore, the judgment granting the government’s motion for summary judgment was affirmed.

If you or someone you know was injured in a premises liability accident and has incurred medical bills and lost wages, you need to find the right premises liability lawyer. Call the premises liability law firm of Foran & Foran, P.A. today! We can help. The best tool that you have as an injured person is the ability to file a lawsuit. Make sure you are represented by a personal injury law firm that will file a lawsuit on your behalf when appropriate.

More Blog Posts:

Maryland Court of Special Appeals Rules in Medical Malpractice Case, Maryland Personal Injury Blog, published June 24, 2015

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