Pennsylvania Record

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Trip-and-fall plaintiff who said a step 'should be more evident' handed another loss

State Court

By Charmaine Little | Aug 8, 2019

Penn-Wells Hotel

HARRISBURG - On July 30, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania backed a summary judgment ruling for a hotel accused of negligence after a female patron fell.

Helen and Montie Peters said Wellsboro Hotel Company and Penn-Wells Hotel breached their duty to Helen Peters as a customer, causing her to fall and suffer injuries on the property, but both the lower court (Court of Common Pleas of Tioga County’s Civil Division) and the Superior Court of Pennsylvania disagreed, as both granted summary judgment for the defendants.

On the night of the incident, the couple had dinner at the defendants’ restaurant, and Helen Peters fell and suffered injuries. The couple argued that the defendants “knew or should have known that the step was unsafe, insufficiently demarcated or lit, and posed a hazardous condition to guests, patrons, business invitees, and the generic public exiting the restaurant.” 

The Superior Court disagreed. It pointed out that Helen Peters said that while there were streetlights, it was pretty dark outside by the time she and her husband left the restaurant. 

While testifying, she was asked to explain why the step she missed was a danger to her. According to the court, she said it was “the fact that I didn’t know it was there … I just feel that it should be more evident that there is a step there.”

The Superior Court said it determined the Peterses didn’t properly show that a breach on the appellees’ part is what actually caused Helen Peters to fall. Ultimately, the court said, there’s little to no evidence that connects the appellees to Helen Peters’ fall, let alone that they were the parties that caused it.

Judge Mary P. Murray wrote the opinion. President Judge Emeritus Correale F. Stevens and Judge Anne Lazarus concurred.

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