Articles Posted in Premises Liability

aquariumIn a recent North Carolina trip and fall case, the plaintiff had sued after falling at an aquarium. She visited the aquarium in 2011, and after parking she was walking to the aquarium in a crowd. At a wooden bridge, she fell and fractured her hip, which necessitated hip replacement surgery and physical and occupational therapy. Her medical bills were $22,691.71.

She claimed that the aquarium, through its director, had been negligent in maintaining the aquarium’s common areas and failing to provide warnings about the dangerous condition. She claimed damages of $250,000. When it answered, the defendant denied the negligence claims. It argued that the plaintiff had been contributorily negligent. When a plaintiff is found contributorily negligent in North Carolina, she is barred from recovering any damages.

A deputy commissioner issued an order that found the defendant had breached its duty of care to the plaintiff and that she was not contributorily negligent. She was awarded more than $72,000 for medical bills and pain and suffering damages. The defendant appealed to the Full Commission. The Commission found that the plaintiff was 88 and owned a beauty salon, where she worked more than 40 hours per week until she was injured. She had no prior medical conditions affecting her walking ability, although she’d had an ulcer on her leg in 2011.

moldIn a recent North Carolina appellate case, the plaintiff sued a Homeowners’ Association when she fell and hurt herself on a moldy walkway in her condo complex. Before falling, she’d been a tenant for six years and went to her unit by using a staircase on the side of the building. After having a rotator cuff surgery, she had to start using the elevator to get to her unit.

She could get to the parking lot from the elevator by using the wooden walkways. There were two, each of which included a 90-degree turn around a column. Tenants would come out of the building, walk down the wooden walkway, turn at the column, and keep walking on the walkway to get to the parking lot.

The HOA contracted with a management company in 2012 and 2013, and the company took over maintenance of the walkways. An employee of the management company told her employer that the walkways were dangerous because of mold that made them slick when wet in 2012. She submitted an estimate to get the walkways power washed, but the defendant didn’t respond.

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basketballIn a recent North Carolina appellate case, the court considered injuries to a basketball referee. The case arose while the plaintiff was hired to referee a high school basketball game. The tournament was created by a basketball club, but the high school was managed by the Education Board. The club paid the Board a fee to use their basketball court as the site of the tournament.

Before the day he was injured, the plaintiff hadn’t refereed at that particular gym. As a ref, he had to run along the court while monitoring the participants’ play. He claimed that while running alongside the game, he stepped on a warped part of the floor next to the court. He fell down and experienced an injury to his knee. The plaintiff also claimed that after taking the spill, the other officials advised him they ran around the warpage so that they wouldn’t fall.

The plaintiff sued the club and the Board, as well as the club owners, alleging he’d suffered a ligament tear and fracture, for which he needed surgery and incurred more than $300,000 in expenses. The Board denied the allegations and defended on the basis of failure to state a claim, and then it moved to dismiss. The judge granted the motion to dismiss with prejudice.

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paintIn a recent North Carolina appellate case, the plaintiff appealed after summary judgment was granted for the defendant, the City of Gastonia. The city owned a commercial building within a downtown revitalization district. The building wasn’t used to house a municipal or government office or department.

Starting in 2013, the city leased the building to an art guild, which wasn’t affiliated with the city or the county. The city leased the building in order to fill a vacancy and remove blight from the vacant downtown buildings. The purpose of the lease wasn’t profit, and the city kept its responsibility to inspect the building and maintain its exterior.

The art guild was limited to using the location as an art gallery, studio, and gift shop under the lease terms. The art guild had to provide compensation in the form of 90% of all of the rent money it got from subtenants, 30% of the gross sales receipts received for art sold in that location, and 15% of its gross sales receipts, and the subtenants had to provide at least 15 hours of volunteer time at the gallery as well as performing other tasks.

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