To defeat a motion for summary judgment in a personal injury suit, the plaintiff must show sufficient evidence exists to support their claim. In a February 1, 2021 opinion, the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland considered a summary judgment motion filed by the defendants in a personal injury case. The plaintiffs in the case brought their Maryland negligence claim in federal court against the owners of a restaurant after allegedly suffering injuries in a slip and fall accident.
The plaintiffs in the case visited a Maryland restaurant known for having peanuts on the floor. Complimentary peanuts were served during all hours of operation, and customers were permitted to discard peanut shells on the floor of the restaurant. While waiting to be seated, the plaintiffs made their way to the restrooms. Before reaching the restroom, the plaintiff fell on the hardwood flooring and landed on her right hip, with her right foot twisted behind her. The plaintiff testified that she had oily stains on the right side of her clothing, leading her to believe that she fell in peanut oil.
In their suit, the plaintiffs claimed that the restaurant was negligent by failing to protect her from a dangerous condition that allegedly caused her injuries. To succeed on their Maryland negligence claim, the plaintiffs must establish: (1) that the defendant was under a duty to protect the plaintiff from injury, (2) that the defendant breached that duty, (3) that the plaintiff suffered actual injury or loss, and (4) that the loss or injury proximately resulted from the defendant’s breach of duty. Insofar as the plaintiff was a business invitee, the restaurant was required to use reasonable care to protect the plaintiff from from injury caused by an unreasonable risk that she would be unlikely to perceive in the exercise of ordinary care for her own safety, and about which the restaurant knows or could have discovered.
The restaurant moved for summary judgment on the basis that the plaintiffs presented insufficient evidence of a dangerous condition that caused her injuries. In its ruling, the U.S. District Court explained that it is not necessary at the summary judgment stage for the plaintiff to show conclusive evidence of a dangerous condition, or to rule out alternative causes of her injury in order to defeat the motion. Rather, when viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, the court concluded that a jury could reasonably infer from the plaintiff’s testimony that she had slipped on a dangerous condition involving peanut fragments and peanut oil. The court ultimately denied the restaurant’s motion for summary judgment and allowed the plaintiffs to proceed with their claims.
If you or a loved one have been hurt in an accident, a Maryland personal injury lawyer can advise you of your legal options. At Foran & Foran, P.A., we have experience representing people in premises liability claims, car crash cases, medical malpractice actions, and other lawsuits arising out of negligence. Make an appointment to discuss your legal issue with one of our skilled attorneys by calling (301) 441-2022 or submitting our contact form online.