Pennsylvania Record

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Target receives summary judgment to dismiss couple's trip-and-fall lawsuit


By Carrie Bradon | May 28, 2019

PHILADELPHIA — Target Corp. has won summary judgment in a case brought against the retailer by a couple who claimed the retailer's negligence led to a trip and fall that caused a broken hip.

Carole and Doug Stagnaro were on the wrong end of an April 30 decision in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

According to the decision, on March 13, 2016, the plaintiffs were at the Target at 455 Carnegie Blvd. in Malvern. Carole Stagnaro alleges she was walking in the clothing area when she was caused to trip and fall on a rack that was in a dangerous position. As a result of the fall, the plaintiff’s right hip was broken, they claimed.

Under Pennsylvania law, the possessors of a property are responsible for protecting invitees from foreseeable harm. The plaintiffs, however, must succeed in proving that the defendant created a dangerous condition that caused the plaintiff to fall. Additionally, according to Pennsylvania law, the property owner can only be subject to liability for physical harm if the harm was caused by the property owner’s negligence.

The defendant argues the plaintiffs have not provided sufficient evidence for the jury to reach a verdict without venturing into guesswork. Target did not dispute the plaintiff’s fall or that the injuries were due to a fall at one of their stores, but that the plaintiff has not met their burden of establishing a dangerous condition, as there was not sufficient evidence of causation to be presented to a jury. The defendants claim the plaintiffs have failed to present admissible evidence in support of their claim and that the lack of causation evidence is clear.

The court, because of the aforementioned factors, granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

The case has been heard by Judge Jan DuBois.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case number 16-3535

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