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Feb 2016

Jack Coakley and Melissa Arnold were recently awarded summary judgment on behalf of a Massachusetts hospital in a District Court negligence/premises liability case.  The plaintiff’s estate had claimed that the decedent fell and was injured after tripping on a scale located in the hallway of the hospital’s emergency department.  The plaintiff’s decedent had been visiting her son in the hospital at the time of the occurrence.  The decedent passed away from an illness unrelated to the occurrence after suit was filed, but prior to responding to discovery requests or being deposed.  The only percipient witness to the accident – the decedent’s son – testified at his deposition that he did not see the decedent fall and did not observe any scale in the vicinity of the accident location.   Jack and Melissa were able to secure summary judgment by  showing that the plaintiff had no evidence and was unlikely to present evidence at trial that (1) the decedent fell due to the scale or any other reason attributable to the hospital and (2) even assuming the plaintiff could establish that the decedent had tripped on a scale, that the presence and location of the scale in a hospital was open and obvious and, in any event, did not constitute an unreasonably unsafe condition.  On this record, the Superior Court granted summary judgment. 


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