Massachusetts Appellate Court Dismisses Premises Liability Claim for Lack of Causation

In Stewart v. Five Bridge Inn, LLC, a woman suffered injuries while attending a wedding at an inn located in Massachusetts after suffering a fall. In particular, the woman experienced a broken tibia and fibula. The woman filed a premises liability complaint against the inn, alleging that an oddly shaped rock embedded in the parking lot was responsible for her tumble. During the litigation, however, the woman indicated that she was wearing three-inch heels during the accident and that she was not completely clear on whether the irregularly shaped rock was responsible for her tumble.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment. In such a motion, the moving party advances that there are no genuine issues of material fact and that the court should rule on the litigation as a matter of law. The lower court granted the motion, agreeing with the defendant’s assertion that the plaintiff did not prove that a defective condition at the defendant’s location was the cause of her injuries.

The plaintiff appealed to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, which affirmed the lower court’s ruling. In a premises liability lawsuit, the plaintiff must show that the defendant knew or should have known about a dangerous condition on its property and that the defendant failed to repair the dangerous condition or warn the plaintiff about the dangerous condition. Next, the plaintiff must demonstrate that this failure was the direct cause of the injuries. In other words, the plaintiff must show that he or she would not likely have suffered injuries had the defendant repaired the dangerous condition or provided an adequate warning.

According to the appellate court, proving causation is a critical portion of the plaintiff’s case, and a necessary element before recovery can be granted. The appellate court agreed with the lower court’s finding that the woman failed to provide sufficient evidence of whether the irregularly shaped rock existed in the parking lot, whether it was a dangerous condition, whether the defendant provided any warnings about the rock, or whether the woman’s fall was caused by the irregularly shaped rock. Without more definite information regarding the cause of her fall, the woman’s claim that the inn was liable for her injuries constituted mere “speculation or conjecture.”

If you or someone you love has been injured as the result of an unreasonably dangerous property condition, you may be entitled to compensation. In Massachusetts, severe storms and intense weather create very dangerous conditions, like slippery sidewalks, icy walkways, and precarious balconies. As a result, property owners need to be especially diligent when it comes to repairing defective conditions and keeping their properties safe for visitors and guests.

At the Law Offices of John S. Moffa, we have helped many Massachusetts residents bring a claim and seek the damages they deserve after suffering injuries as a result of another person’s negligence. Our dedicated team of personal injury lawyers will treat you and your family with the compassion and dedication that you deserve, and we can fight for your rights along each step of the way. Call us now at 508-362-5554 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.

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