Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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.

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.

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Earlier this month, the Florida State legislature approved a settlement with the family of a teen who was crushed when the branch of a city-owned tree fell on top of him. Thankfully, the boy lived, although he was permanently paralyzed as a result of the incident. According to one local news source, the family’s settlement was hung up for several months in the State Legislature while it was waiting to be approved.

In Florida, there is a limit on the amount of money a person can receive from a government entity in a personal injury lawsuit. However, the legislature does have the ability to grant an exception to this limit when all the parties agree that there should be a higher amount paid out to an individual.

In this case, the city council was on board with the settlement award. Indeed, the city immediately accepted responsibility for the accident, acknowledging that the tree had rotted out and that the city had received numerous complaints from neighbors but had not yet removed the tree.

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In a case earlier this month, a Nebraska appellate court reversed a lower court’s ruling that dismissed a man’s lawsuit alleging that his son’s middle school was negligent in the maintenance of the school.

Back in 2009, the father of a middle-school student tripped and fell outside his daughter’s school after a varsity volleyball match. Evidently, as the man was leaving the school, he left out the side doors. Testimony revealed that there was some lighting in the vestibule between the double doors, but no lights outside.

As the man was leaving, he was prevented from walking down the ramp immediately in front of the doors because there was a large group of people standing in his way. He then continued down what he thought was a path to the parking lot. However, at some point, he tripped and fell and landed on his elbow. He required surgery to fix the broken bone in his arm.

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Early last week, a young boy was unfortunately killed in a tragic accident while he was looking for his pet hamster. A local Florida newspaper reported that the boy was 12 years old and lived in Bradenton, Florida. The young child’s pet hamster had become lost on the day of the incident. The boy proceeded to look for the hamster in an elevator at his home, an apartment complex. When the child was searching for the hamster, somehow the elevator malfunctioned. When he was in the elevator shaft, the elevator lowered on him.

The impact of the elevator crushed the young child. Emergency personnel arrived at around 11:30 a.m. The boy was declared dead shortly after that time at the scene of the accident. Apparently, the child’s father was home at the time of the accident. The news has not currently reported any more details regarding any fault in the accident.

Premises Liability in Florida

Although the above case is a particularly tragic one, it does not negate liability for the owner of the property or the operator of the elevator. Florida, like most of the country, has certain rules regulating how property owners must maintain their premises. When an individual is hurt on someone else’s property and wants to bring a negligence suit against the owner or operator of the property, he or she must determine what his or her status was at the time of the injury. There are three general types of statuses:  trespassers, licensees, or invitees.

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Earlier this week in Walt Disney World, a fire started on one of the amusement park’s newest and most popular rides, the Seven Dwarves Mine Train Ride. According to a report by People, the park authorities noticed that something was wrong when embers from the nearby Magic Kingdom firework display landed near the ride’s buildings. The building quickly caught fire.

The fire began around ten in the evening and was completely contained within two hours. Thankfully, there were no injuries as a result of the fire. The ride, which has been open for only about six months, is the park’s most popular attraction.

Disney World’s Safety Record

Walt Disney World is known to be a fairly safe amusement park.  However, accidents can occur at these parks.  For example, there was a fatal accident a few years back on the Sailing Ship Columbia in Disneyland where a rope that was securing the ship came loose and swung a metal cleat into a man, killing him and severely injuring his wife. The couple’s two children, although unharmed, witnessed the entire accident. In the case, the amusement park settled with the family for $20 million.

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Last month in Tampa, a 57-year-old man died as a result of an accident that occurred at his place of employment. According to a report by one local news source, the man was working for Infra-Metals when the accident took place.

Evidently, the man was using a forklift to move a large steel beam, when the beam collided with a pile of similar beams nearby. The force from the collision pushed the forklift back, crushing the man inside. Nearby workers attempted to remove the beam as soon as possible, but it was too late by the time they did.

The man left behind a wife, eight children, and 17 grandchildren. His wife told reporters that she wonders what could have been done to prevent the fatal accident. She said that her husband had told her of problems with the forklift in the past, but she assumed that they were all resolved once he stopped talking about them.

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Issues of negligence are usually determined by the jury. However, in some cases where the plaintiff’s case is especially weak, a defendant may petition the court to dismiss the case against them. This is usually the case when the plaintiff does not submit enough evidence to prove that a legal cause of action exists, even if the court assumes all the plaintiff’s evidence is true. Procedurally, this process is called “summary judgment.”

Weider v. King Cole Condominium Association, Inc.

In a recent case by a Florida court of appeals, Weider v. King Cole Condominium Association, Inc., the court reversed a summary judgment motion granted by the trial court. The facts of the case are as follows: Weider was a resident in a condominium owned and operated by King Cole. At some point during her residency, she tripped over a “buckling” in the carpet in one of the condominiums’ common areas. The carpet had recently been cleaned and was still wet at the time of Weider’s accident. Apparently, the wet condition of the carpet made the buckling more pronounced. Continue reading ›

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