Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an interesting personal injury case dealing with the burden a defendant has in order to succeed in a summary judgment motion. The case required the court to determine if the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to permit her case to proceed to trial over the defendant restaurant’s summary judgment challenge. Holding that the evidence did not preclude a finding in the plaintiff’s favor, the court determined summary judgment in favor of the defendant was inappropriate.
The case presents an important issue for Washington, D.C. premises liability plaintiffs, in that it illustrates the manner in which courts view claims brought by customers against business owners for injuries that occur on their premises.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff was dining at the defendant restaurant with a friend. Specifically, the two were outside on the patio of the restaurant. During lunch, the plaintiff removed a light jacket and set it down either on the chair next to her or on a low cement wall adjacent to the table. After the two had finished, the plaintiff put her jacket back on and immediately felt a sharp pain in her shoulder. When the plaintiff’s friend asked her what was wrong, the plaintiff responded that she thought something had bitten her.