Premises liability case dismissed by appellate court
A tragic premises liability case demonstrates the kind of test courts apply in Massachusetts and elsewhere in determining whether a basis for a claim exists. The lower court’s dismissal of the case was recently upheld by the Tennessee Court of Appeals.The plaintiff in the case was a woman’s husband who filed a suit after his wife fainted in a store, collapsing on a glass display case. When she did so, the case shattered, causing a glass shard to penetrate her chest and her aortic arch, leading her to die. The plaintiff had argued that the store’s aisles were too skinny and cluttered and that the owners should have foreseen that an injury could happen with the case since it was antique. The defendant argued that the case, which was purchased in the early 1980s, was already 30 years old at that time. Since then, it had apparently withstood many instances of customers running into it with baby carriages and other things. In its ruling, the court found that neither the possibility that the glass could break not the incident itself was not reasonably foreseeable since the woman did not trip or slip on items on the floor. This led the court to uphold the dismissal of the case. While the man’s loss of his wife was clearly tragic, the case also demonstrates that not all claims filed under the theory of premises liability will stand. For the theory to apply, the accident and resulting injury must be one that could be reasonably foreseen by people similarly situated to the defendant. Premises liability rests on the idea that property owners owe a duty of care to people who are legally on their premises to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. In order for plaintiffs to establish that such a duty existed and that it was breached, they must be able to show that the results were reasonably foreseeable.