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Appellate Court Allows Slip-and-Fall Plaintiff’s Case to Proceed Past Summary Judgment Motion

Earlier this month, an appellate court in California heard a case brought by a woman and her husband against the gym at which they were both members after the woman was injured while working out at the facility. In the case, Chavez v. 24 Hour Fitness, the plaintiff sustained a traumatic brain injury after being struck in the head by a workout machine. She sued the gym under several legal theories, including premises liability, product liability, traditional negligence, and gross negligence.

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The evidence showed that there was preventative maintenance that the manufacturer of the machine suggested be performed. However, 24 Hour Fitness was not able to prove that the maintenance was performed routinely, and importantly it was unable to show the last time that the machine was serviced. 24 Hour Fitness was able to show some of the repair and service records, but those were incomplete and therefore inconclusive as to the issue of whether the recommended maintenance was actually completed.

Additionally, the plaintiffs put on several employees of the gym who testified that several machines were usually out of repair at any given time, and that they have seen cables snap while customers were using the machines.

24 Hour Fitness’ Response

In response to the allegations, 24 Hour Fitness filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking to dismiss all charges. Summary judgment is a pre-trial filing that asks a court to dismiss a case because, even if the court resolves all evidentiary differences in favor of the non-moving party, they still are not entitled to relief as a matter of law. In other words, 24 Hour Fitness claimed that, even if the court assumed everything that the plaintiffs said was true, there would still be no liability on 24 Hour Fitness’ part under the relevant laws.

The court determined that summary judgement was appropriate as to all claims and dismissed all of the plaintiffs’ claims.

On Appeal, the Decision Is Reversed

The plaintiffs understood the court’s ruling and did not appeal the dismissal of the products liability, premises liability, or traditional negligence actions. The plaintiffs disagreed with the court’s ruling as to the gross negligence claim, however, and appealed the decision to a higher court. The appellate court disagreed as well and reversed the lower court’s determination.

The court noted that, under the circumstances, there was sufficient evidence presented that a jury may have determined that 24 Hour Fitness was grossly negligent. Because of this, the court held, summary judgment is not appropriate.

Have You Been Injured On Another’s Property?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured while on another’s property, you may be entitled to monetary damages. However, you should be prepared for the business or individual whose property you were on to contest the allegations, as 24 Hour Fitness did above. Negligence, premises liability, and products liability cases can all require a substantial amount of preparation, including expert witnesses, fact witnesses, and in-depth investigations. To make sure you are prepared for what lies ahead, contact one of the dedicated Florida personal injury attorneys at the Dean Firm at 352-387-8700. Call today to set up a consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Pick-Up Truck Crashes into Cape Coral Pool Hall, Killing One and Injuring Three Others, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published August 3, 2015.

Florida Hit-and-Run Driver Sentenced to 20 Years in Jail, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published July 14, 2015.