Massachusetts Court of Appeal Affirms Dismissal of Premises Liability Claim

Even when we think we are in a safely maintained environment, serious injuries can happen. When you set foot in a public business or establishment, you are trusting that the owner of the facility has done their best to make it safe for you and your family. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

In a recent case, Finnegan v. Kingpin Entertainment, Inc., the Massachusetts Appeals Court had a chance to revisit the Commonwealth’s premises liability doctrine. In this case, a couple filed a lawsuit against a bowling alley after the husband suffered severe injuries while using the bowling alley’s facilities, alleging that the facility used oil on the lanes and that some of the oil had traveled over the fault line in front of the lane that the husband was using. The injured husband’s wife sought damages for loss of consortium stemming from her husband’s injuries.

The husband’s claim was based on a well-established tort doctrine called premises liability. According to Massachusetts case law on the subject, property owners owe a duty to their customers and patrons to keep the premises in good, safe condition and to warn against any unknown dangers.

In response to the complaint, the bowling alley filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted the motion, thereby dismissing the case, and the plaintiffs appealed.

The Massachusetts Court of Appeal affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment, holding that the plaintiffs did not present enough evidence to demonstrate that the oil had traveled to areas in the bowling alley where patrons walked or stood. As a result, a trier of fact had no basis for concluding that the husband’s fall happened as a result of the oil. In their complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that an “unknown substance” was on the husband’s hand immediately after the fall, but the court held that this was not sufficient to establish the bowling alley’s use of oil, or that even if the bowling alley used oil that it had leaked over the fault line.

The plaintiffs also alleged in their complaint that the bowling alley was negligent in not posting notices about various hazards that could harm patrons. The court concluded that the plaintiffs failed to provide sufficient evidence to show that the bowling alley failed to meet its burden on this element and upheld the trial court’s grant of summary judgment on this claim as well.

If you or someone you know has suffered injuries due to a property owner’s failure to maintain their premises, you may be entitled to compensation. The experienced and compassionate personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of John S. Moffa can help you bring a case to recover the compensation you need after suffering a terrible and unnecessary accident. Call us now at 1-800-446-4485 or contact us online to set up your free consultation today.

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