Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Children spend a lot of their time at school, and parents leave children under the supervision of school staff. When children get hurt, many parents question when the school is liable. In a recent Connecticut premises liability case, the Connecticut Supreme Court recently considered one such case and explained the limits of those cases.

Safety ScissorsThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff, an 11-year-old boy, was attending a magnet school in New Haven, Connecticut. After he arrived at school one day, he went to the auditorium to eat breakfast and wait for school to start. A teacher was in the auditorium at the time to supervise students. There were 70 to 75 students in the auditorium that morning. A girl was chasing after one of the plaintiff’s friends with safety scissors in her hand. She dropped the scissors near the plaintiff, and as the plaintiff and another girl bent down to pick up the scissors, the girl lifted the scissors and accidentally cut the plaintiff on the side of his face. The teacher did not see the girl running because he was talking to other students. The plaintiff was soon transported to a hospital for treatment.

In his complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the school failed to properly supervise the students in the auditorium. The case went to trial, and the court found in favor of the plaintiff on the failure to supervise claim and the failure to properly inspect the premises, and it awarded over $50,000 in damages.

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The first issue in any personal injury claim is determining the proper defendant in a case. In a recent Connecticut premises liability case, the court had to consider whether a landowner defendant was liable for injuries that a woman allegedly sustained on a public sidewalk next to the owner’s property.

Cobblestone WalkwayIn that case, the plaintiff filed a claim against a property owner after she fell on a public sidewalk next to the owner’s property in Meriden, Connecticut. She tripped and fell on the sidewalk and alleged that since the concrete was broken and cracked, and since the crack was hidden by grass growing through the crack, it prevented her from safely using the sidewalk. She claimed that she sustained injuries, mostly to her right leg. The plaintiff alleged that the landowner allowed a defective, dangerous, and unsafe condition to exist, knew or reasonably should have known of the presence of the defect, and failed to repair it in a timely manner or warn others of the defect.

The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it did not have a duty to maintain the sidewalk. A Connecticut appeals court agreed. It held that the landowner did not have a duty to maintain the sidewalk in this case because the municipality had the primary duty to maintain the sidewalk, and it had not shifted liability to the landowner through a statute, ordinance, or charter provision, and it did not create a defect by its own actions. Therefore, the court granted the defendant’s motion and dismissed the case.

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Earlier this month, the state’s high court issued a written opinion in a Connecticut premises liability lawsuit requiring the court to discuss the fireman’s rule and determine its applicability to the specific facts of the case. Ultimately, the court concluded that the fireman’s rule – which traditionally applied only to premises liability actions – should not be extended to general negligence claims. Thus, the high court reversed the lower court’s decision to deny the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

FirefighterThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was an on-duty police officer who was responding to a call for a person, the defendant, who had entered a home in violation of a protection order and was refusing to leave. Upon arrival, the plaintiff was made aware that the defendant was threatening to harm himself.

Believing it was necessary to prevent the defendant from harming himself or someone else, the plaintiff decided to kick in the defendant’s door. As the plaintiff attempted to do so, he was seriously injured. The plaintiff filed a general negligence claim against the defendant. Importantly, the plaintiff’s claim was not based on a theory of premises liability and did not allege any defect or hazard in the home.

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Last month, an appellate court issued a written opinion in a Connecticut slip-and-fall case requiring the court to determine if the lower court was proper in ruling that the plaintiff proved her case against the defendant hospital. Ultimately, the court affirmed the lower court’s verdict in favor of the plaintiff, finding that the defendant’s challenges to the lower court’s rulings were without merit.

SidewalkThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was visiting a loved one at a hospital owned and operated by the defendant. The plaintiff was on her way out of the hospital, walking on a sidewalk on hospital property, when she stubbed her toe. This caused her to fall to the ground, resulting in serious lower back injuries. Additionally, she broke her toe when she stubbed it against the object. The plaintiff did not see what caused her fall.

The plaintiff filed a Connecticut personal injury lawsuit against the hospital, arguing that the hospital should have not allowed the divot in the pavement to remain or should have warned about its presence. The plaintiff claimed that the hospital’s failure to fix the defect or warn her about it resulted in her tripping and injuring herself.

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Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Connecticut issued a written opinion in a premises liability lawsuit that was brought by a man who slipped and fell after exiting a public pool after an aqua-therapy class. The court was tasked with determining whether the municipality that owned and operated the pool was entitled to immunity, despite the fact that it had charged a fee to the organization that put on the aqua-therapy class. Ultimately, the court concluded that, while the municipality did charge a fee for the usage of the pool, the fee was nominal and did not result in the municipality making a profit. Thus, government immunity remained intact, and the plaintiff’s lawsuit was dismissed.

Swimming PoolThe Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was participating in an aqua therapy class taught by a local organization that provided rehabilitation services. The organization had requested the use of the pool by sending a one-page request to the municipality and agreeing to pay a $50 fee. The organization was not the only group to use the pool, and when the pool was not being rented out to a group, it was designated for public use.

After the class, the plaintiff exited the pool and walked back to the men’s locker room. On his way, he slipped and fell on a wet step, injuring himself in the process. The plaintiff filed a premises liability case against the municipality, claiming that its negligence in maintaining the area around the pool resulted in his injuries.

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