The Details

This St. Lawrence County Supreme Court matter arose out of alleged negligence by the defendant, a hospital, as the result of a slip and fall by the plaintiff which occurred on July 21, 2016. The plaintiff sued the defendant hospital on January 9, 2018, claiming a defective condition on the defendant’s premises caused her to slip and fall, suffering personal injuries to her left knee and cervical spine.

Monaco Cooper Lamme & Carr, PLLC, through our attorneys, Adam Cooper and Caitlin Goetz, represent the defendant hospital.

The plaintiff has a history of neurocardiogenic syncope which has side effects including weakness and fainting. On the day of the alleged incident, the plaintiff arrived at the hospital for treatment related to her condition. She parked in the parking lot, walked into the hospital, and took the elevator to the 2nd floor without incident. At the completion of her treatment, the plaintiff used the same route to exit the building. The plaintiff alleges that as she walked up the ramp in the main hallway towards the exit, she slipped and fell, injuring herself.

The Lawsuit

During the course of litigation, deposition testimony was taken from the plaintiff, the employee of the hospital who assisted the plaintiff after she fell, and the Safety & Security Officer of the hospital who testified with respect to surveillance footage.

The deposition testimonies elicited that on the day of the incident, the plaintiff was wearing flip flops. The floor in question had not been mopped, it had not been raining that day, and there were no sources of water in the area such as a water fountain or bathroom. There were no prior reports of water on the floor, there were no witnesses to the plaintiff’s fall, the plaintiff did not see water on the floor on her way into the hospital or before she fell, and there was no obvious evidence of any liquid on the floor.

The hospital’s employee testified that he did not see any obvious visible water when he approached the plaintiff but as he helped her, he did see a “little area of water.” Further, he had walked through that area multiple times earlier that day and saw no water on the floor, and received no complaints of any water on the floor in that area.

The hospital’s Safety & Security Officer provided two affidavits during discovery which indicated that there was no available surveillance footage of the incident.

The Motion

At the close of discovery, Ms. Goetz moved the Court for Summary Judgement, requesting that the plaintiff’s Complaint be dismissed as it lacked legal merit with respect to both actual and constructive notice of a defective condition (water on the floor).

As to actual notice, Ms. Goetz argued that the plaintiff failed to prove that the defendant had actual notice of any hazardous condition on the floor where the plaintiff allegedly fell or that the hospital or its employee created a dangerous condition.

Further, Ms. Goetz argued that the plaintiff did not present any proof of constructive notice, as the evidence shows that the water was not visible or apparent and did not exist for any sufficient period of time necessary to allow the defendant to remedy the condition.

In closing, Ms. Goetz argued that without notice of the alleged negligent condition, the plaintiff’s claim fails.

The plaintiff opposed the defendant’s Motion and made a Cross-Motion alleging that the defendant spoliated evidence with respect to the surveillance footage by taping over the footage from that day as originally stated in the Affidavit of the hospital’s Safety & Security Officer.

The defendant maintained that no surveillance camera existed at the time of the plaintiff’s fall and that spoliation is inapplicable as the Plaintiff herself can provide testimony.

The Decision

The motions were heard before Justice Mary M. Farley. Judge Farley noted there is no evidence with respect to plaintiff’s claims of spoliation. Further, the Judge found that the video would not prove whether the defendant had actual or constructive notice, and as plaintiff did not prove either, the defendant’s Motion was granted, and the plaintiff’s Complaint was dismissed.

About Caitlin Goetz

Caitlin A. Goetz focuses her practice in the areas of litigation and insurance defense. She regularly defends cases involving general and premises liability, product liability, and trucking and transportation law. Caitlin also practices in the area of labor and employment, providing legal counsel to clients which include municipalities, school districts, automobile dealerships, and employers both large and small. Caitlin can be reached at (518) 818-6102 and

About Monaco Cooper Lamme & Carr, PLLC

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