In Walden v. Central Parking System of Tennessee, Inc., a woman parked her car in a parking garage that was located near a medical facility where she had scheduled an appointment. After she returned to the garage to retrieve her vehicle, the woman was apparently injured when she fell on the concrete floor. According to the woman, she tripped on an unmarked drop in an area of the floor that appeared to be level. As a result of her harm, the woman filed a negligence lawsuit against the owner of the garage and the medical facility in Knox County.
At trial, the defendants filed a motion for summary judgment. In general, such a motion is only appropriate when there are no material issues of fact in dispute, and one party to a lawsuit is entitled to judgment in his or her favor. When considering such a motion, a court must review all evidence in the light that is most favorable to the non-moving party.
Following a hearing, the trial court concluded the woman failed to note the open and obvious condition on the garage floor. Additionally, the court said reasonable minds could not find that the defendants were at fault for the woman’s fall injury. Because of this, the court granted the defendants’ motion and entered judgment in favor of the parking garage owner and medical facility.
Next, the woman sought appellate review by the Court of Appeals of Tennessee at Knoxville. On appeal, the woman claimed the trial court committed error when it granted the defendants’ motion. After discussing when summary judgment is appropriate, the Knoxville court stated a plaintiff in a negligence case must prove the defendant owed her a duty of care, that the defendant breached that duty, and that the breach proximately caused her to suffer harm. The appellate court added that a duty must be established before a plaintiff’s comparative fault may be considered.
The Court of Appeals then dismissed the trial court’s holding that reasonable minds could not disagree regarding the cause of the plaintiff’s injury. The court said the trial court found the woman was looking where she was walking and fell anyway. Because of this, the Knoxville court stated there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the woman could have seen the step on which she fell and somehow avoided her injury. Ultimately, the Court of Appeals of Tennessee, at Knoxville reversed the trial court’s order granting the defendants’ motion for summary judgment and remanded the injured woman’s negligence lawsuit for trial.
The experienced lawyers at the Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. help Eastern Tennessee clients who were hurt due to a property owner’s negligent act recover the financial compensation they deserve based on the severity of their harm. To speak with a hardworking Knoxville personal injury attorney about your premises liability case, call the Hartsoe Law Firm, P.C. at (865) 524-5657 or contact us through our website.
Walden v. Central Parking System of Tennessee, Inc., Tenn: Court of Appeals 2015
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