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Premises liability - Alleged negligent failure of country club to barricade stairway temporarily not in use or to provide better lighting - Elderly plaintiff falls down flight of steps after entering clubhouse following 18 holes of golf - Soft tissue cervical injuries - Fractures to both hands.

Morris County, NJ

The 93-year-old plaintiff contended that after playing 18 holes, he walked into the clubhouse, mistakenly believed that he was walking into the restaurant and did not realize that he was stepping into a staircase until he reached it and fell some 15 steps. The plaintiff contended that because of the contrast between the sunny weather and much darker clubhouse is heightened when golfers first enter the clubhouse after completing a round of golf, the lighting should have been better. The plaintiff also maintained that in view of the fact that the area at the bottom of the stairway was closed because of construction, there was no need for the stairway at the time, and that the area should have been barricaded.

The defendant denied that the area was unreasonably dangerous. The defendant established that the incident occurred immediately upon the plaintiff walking into the clubhouse and before his eyes became adjusted to the change in lighting. The defendant maintained that the sole cause of the incident was the failure of the plaintiff to show greater care when entering an area in which he found it difficult to see.

The plaintiff maintained that he suffered a fractured thumb on one hand a fracture to the fourth metacarpal on the other hand. The plaintiff maintained that the recuperation period from these injuries, and the soft tissue cervical injuries, were painful and difficult.

The jury found that the defendant was not negligent.

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