Appellate Court Reverses Lower Court’s Dismissal of Plaintiff’s Nursing Home Slip-and-Fall Lawsuit

Earlier this month, an appellate court in Georgia issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit brought by a woman who slipped and fell in a nursing home while rushing after her husband as he was wheeled through the facility. In the case, Pipkin v. Azalealand Nursing Home, the court determined that the plaintiff’s proffered evidence was sufficient to survive the defendant’s summary judgment motion, and the lower court was wrong to grant the motion when there were two competing versions of the facts.

The Facts of the Case

Mr. Pipkin was transported to the defendant nursing home by ambulance. As the emergency medical technicians were wheeling Mr. Pipkin down the hall through the facility, Mrs. Pipkin was trying to catch up. The evidence suggested that she was walking quickly and possibly with a cane. As she passed the shower room, Mrs. Pipkin slipped and fell.

There was conflicting testimony as to the condition of the floor immediately prior to Mrs. Pipkin’s fall. She recalls slipping on something “slick.” Her son, who immediately came to his mother’s assistance, recalls that as he knelt beside her, his knee got wet and that he then realized his mother was lying in a puddle of clear liquid.

The employees of the nursing home, however, offered a different story. They each claimed that the floor was dry at the time. They testified that it was not uncommon for the floor outside the shower room to be wet but that it was not at this particular time. They also explained that when the floor was wet, staff would place four orange cones to mark the area, but the cones were not present at the time of Mrs. Pipkin’s fall.

At trial, the defendant asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the plaintiff’s evidence failed to establish a necessary element of a premises liability claim. Specifically, the defendant claimed that there was no evidence that the condition existed, and if it did, there was no evidence that the defendant knew or should have known of the dangerous condition. The trial court agreed and granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the case was reversed. The court explained that in order to survive a motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff must show that there is some disputed fact that needs to be resolved. Here, the court explained that the condition of the floor at the time of the accident was in dispute. Given that, it was improper for the trial judge to make the determination of whether the defendant had knowledge of the wet floor. This, the court held, was an issue that should be resolved by the jury, rather than the judge. As a result, the plaintiff’s case will be reinstated and will proceed toward trial.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland Nursing Home?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a slip-and-fall in a Maryland nursing home, you may be entitled to monetary compensation though a premises liability lawsuit. Nursing homes, hospitals, doctor’s offices, and most businesses all have a duty to ensure that their locations are safe for patients and customers. The skilled personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have decades of experience representing accident victims and understand the unique challenges that victims face when seeking financial recovery. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated Maryland personal injury attorney at Lebowitz & Mzhen.

More Blog Posts:

Prescription Drug Errors May Be Concealed by Nursing Home Management or Staff, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published December 14, 2016.

State Passes Bill Providing Cameras in Nursing Home Facilities in Hopes of Decreasing Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published December 21, 2016.

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