Gray·Duffy Obtains Dismissal in Slip and Fall Case After Filing Motion for Summary Judgment

May 2011


Overview

Brian Plessala of Gray·Duffy’s Encino office successfully obtained a dismissal of the firm’s client, Century Park East Homeowners Association, in a slip and fall lawsuit filed by the plaintiff, who agreed to dismiss her lawsuit only after Mr. Plessala filed a Motion for Summary Judgment.

Discussion

Gita Hall v. Twenty Four Seven, Inc., et al

The plaintiff, 76-year-old Gita Hall, fell down three marble steps located in the Century Park East premise lobby, where she was an owner and resident of the property. The incident was captured on a surveillance camera and depicted the plaintiff standing at the security desk talking with the security guard with the steps on her left, very close to her left foot. Ms. Hall then fell to her left and down the lobby stairs while communicating with the security guard.  Her close proximity to the top step suggested she fell because she did not realize how close she was to the top step and stumbled with her left foot.

The video indicated she had not yet turned to intentionally walk down the steps. When she fell, the plaintiff hit her head on the lobby floor and suffered a gash in the back of her head.  In deposition, the plaintiff testified to facts which were inconsistent with the video, although she acknowledged reviewing the video.  She claimed to have walked toward the opposite side of the lobby stairs and proceed toward the handrail on the left side.  She testified that one foot slipped and went out from under her causing her to fall down the steps.  She believes that her body twisted as she fell and that she fell on the back of her head on the lobby floor below the stairs. 

Gray·Duffy filed a Motion for Summary Judgment founded on the lack of any evidence of a dangerous condition which caused the plaintiff’s accident and injuries and the lack of any notice of such condition as to the association.  The motion was based on the evidence of the video surveillance tape showing the plaintiff falling at the security desk which contradicts the plaintiff’s testimony of the nature and location of the incident and supporting declarations from the security guard stationed near the accident and the association property manager.  

With the Motion for Summary Judgment pending, the plaintiff’s counsel offered to dismiss the case with prejudice in exchange for a waiver of costs and fees.  The co-defendant janitorial company, represented by a separate law firm, agreed to settle with plaintiff for $5,000.  Thereafter, the plaintiff filed her dismissal.

Please Note: This article is necessarily general in nature and is not a substitute for legal advice with respect to any particular case. Readers should consult with an attorney before taking any action affecting their interests.