Slip and Fall – Plaintiff's Responsibility to Produce Evidence of the Actual Location

Trompeter v. Hilton Parsippany, Dist. Ct.

In a recent line of cases the New Jersey Appellate has reiterated and reaffirmed the plaintiff’s responsibility to produce evidence of the actual location where s/he has called and the nature of the defect that has called them to call.  In addition, if expert testimony is required to prove the causal relationship between the defective condition, the defendant’s failure to correct same, and the plaintiff’s injuries, that expert is required to produce more than a personal opinion as to the relationship between those three elements of evidence.

Now, in Trompeter the Federal Court has stepped in to reiterate plaintiff’s evidentiary burdens as well.  Plaintiff entered Defendants’ premises, the Parsippany Hilton Hotel, to use the restroom. Plaintiff was not a guest of the Hotel. Plaintiff alleges that he slipped because the floor was wet, as the cleaning people were washing and waxing the floor. However, Plaintiff admits that he is not certain about what caused his fall, but that he had “guessed” the floor was wet. Two hotel employees witnessed Plaintiff’s fall and asked whether he required medical attention and wanted to fill out an incident report. Plaintiff declined. Medical attention was not sought by Plaintiff until a week after the incident. Defendants move for summary judgment on Plaintiffs’ sole claim of negligence, arguing no evidence exists to support liability as there were no injuries reported or any contributing factors observed relating to the floor after the incident. Plaintiff argues that his deposition testimony raises a disputed issue of material fact as to the cause of Plaintiff’s fall. This Court disagrees. Plaintiff makes the assumption that the cause of his fall was due to an alleged wet floor simply because he observed service employees working in a different area from the fall. The deposition testimony of Plaintiff demonstrates his own uncertainty with regard to how the fall occurred. Without being able to allege that the fall occurred based on the Defendant’s breach, Plaintiff may not attempt to hold Defendants liable. Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is granted.

Personal Injury case analysis submitted by Jeffrey Hark

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