Business owners are supposed to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. This includes performing necessary maintenance, regularly inspecting the property for dangers, and taking other, related steps to keep patrons from being injured.
If a property owner or business operator breaches the duty of care owed to a patron, he or she can be held liable for any resulting damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Of course, the burden of proof is on the customer to show the business’ breach of duty, and making out a prima facie case can sometimes be difficult.
In the recent unpublished case of Finnegan v. Kingpin Entertainment, Inc., the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Appeals Court was called upon to consider whether a couple’s premises liability case against a bowling alley should have been dismissed on summary judgment.
Facts of the Case
The plaintiffs were a couple who filed suit in the Superior Court, seeking damages related to a rupture of the husband’s hamstring while he was bowling at a facility owned and operated by the defendant. The wife joined in the lawsuit, asserting a claim for loss of consortium. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendant, and the plaintiffs appealed.
The Question on Appeal
Did the plaintiffs raise a genuine issue of material fact concerning whether the defendant’s use of oil to condition the bowling lane’s surface was responsible for the husband’s injury?
The Opinion of the Appellate Court
Upon consideration, the court affirmed the superior court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim. Since the plaintiffs had failed to present evidence that tended to show that there was oil present in an area normally walked upon by bowlers, there was no basis for a trier of fact to conclude that there was oil near the foul line at the time of the husband’s fall. The presence of an “unidentified substance” on the husband’s hands after the fall was suggestive but ultimately unavailing.
The court also found that the plaintiffs had presented no genuine dispute regarding their claim that the defendant had not fulfilled its duty to warn customers of a potential hazard. Therefore, their claim relating to the defendant’s neglect to post notices warning of slippery conditions also failed.
To Get Assistance with Your Premises Liability Case
Because of the nature of lawsuits involving injuries sustained on the property of another person or business, it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after an injury. Often in such cases, there is physical evidence that, if not preserved, may quickly disappear, possible devaluing the injured person’s claim. Also, there may be filing deadlines and notice requirements that must be complied with. The experienced premises liability attorneys at the Law Firm of John C. Manoog, III, can schedule a free initial consultation about your case. Call us at 888-262-6664 for an appointment concerning your Cape Cod or other Massachusetts injury case.
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