City of McKeesport seeks judgment in lawsuit over student's slip and fall on ice

By Chandra Lye | Jan 28, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- A motion for summary judgment has been filed by the City of McKeesport following an injury complaint where a 16-year-old high school student needed medical attention after a fall.  

The student and plaintiff, Jamya Whitsey, stated she was walking to school on Jan. 28, 2015, and opted to take a shortcut because she was running late. However, she accuses the city of not taking care of the property, which caused her to fall and suffer a variety of injuries. 

“Plaintiff alleges that a ‘dangerous, unsafe and hazardous condition’ existed on the pathway which consisted of hills and ridges of ice and snow, several inches in height created by the defendant’s failure to remove and/or otherwise treat the ice and snow or use anti-skid material on the same, barricade the area and/or give warning of its dangerous condition,” the motion for summary judgment said. 

The plaintiff also claims the area was poorly lit and that the city had failed to properly construct and manage the property. According to her lawsuit, Whitsey suffered many injuries including fractured left fibula, a bimalleolar fracture to the left ankle with syndesmosis, injury to the left leg, contusions and bruises, a shock to the nerves and nervous system, as well as other serious and severe injuries. 

As part of her complaint, it was indicated that she had spent a large amount of money for medical attention with medical expenses costing her more than $1,500. 

The city has decided to file a motion for summary judgment because it believes the plaintiff does not have the evidence to prove the case.

“Relevant discovery taken to date, including the plaintiff’s own sworn deposition testimony, reveals that the plaintiff cannot, as a matter of law, produce evidence essential to establishing a prima facie cause of action against the City of McKeesport,” the motion said.

To support its case, the city relies on the hills and ridges doctrine, which states that an owner or operator of a property is not liable for “generally slippery conditions.” It also draws on the Assumption of Risk Doctrine to support its motion. 

“The plaintiff knowingly, voluntarily and deliberately proceeded to encounter a known and obvious danger by consciously deciding to walk down the snow covered pathway after observing and fully appreciating the snow-covered condition of the pathway,” it stated in their filing. 

According to the motion, Whitsey noted in her testimony she had used the pathway in question several times as a shortcut to get to school from her home. However, she had not had any issues with the pathway until the morning of the incident, the city’s motion said. 

She also stated that she had not notified the city prior to the accident that the pathway was a problem or risk, according to the city’s motion. They pointed out that in her testimony she said the boots she was wearing caused her to slip because they lacked traction. 

Whitsey has demanded a jury trial for the case, which is being heard in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas.

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