Premises Liability - Trip and fall - Missing floor tile - Foot injury - Wrongful death claim with death occurring four years post-incident - Trivial defect doctrine.
Dutchess County (155781)
In this premises liability case, the 46 year old female
plaintiff contended that she tripped and fell while exiting the
defendants retail store as a result of a hazardous condition.
The plaintiff subsequently died prior to trial and her family
continued the suit, attempting to amend the complaint to a
wrongful death claim. The court denied the plaintiffs amended
complaint and the trial proceeded on the issues originally
claimed. The defendant argued that the defect on the premises was
de minimis and did not constitute a hazard.
The evidence revealed that the decedent was exiting the
defendants U-Haul store when she alleged tripped and fell as a
result of a defect in the floor. The plaintiff maintained that
part of a floor tile was missing near the shoulder of the door.
The plaintiff alleged that the decedent had pointed out the
defect two days earlier to store personnel and, therefore, the
defendant U-Haul store was on notice of the defect.
The defendant contended that the missing piece of floor tile was
a trivial defect and de minimis under the trivial defect
The plaintiff alleged that the decedent suffered a foot injury
due to the fall, which occurred on October 29, ________. The decedent
died in July ________. Three days prior to trial, the plaintiff filed
a notice to amend the complaint to include a claim of wrongful
death. The notice to amend was denied.
The plaintiff presented no experts. The defense presented a
safety expert to testify that the alleged defect was, indeed,
trivial and did not constitute a tripping hazard.
The jury found for the defendant.