Plaintiff’s Failure to Name All Defendants in Slip-and-Fall Case Results in Dismissal

Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a premises liability case brought by a woman who had slipped and fallen on a property co-owned by two individuals and maintained by a condo association. In the case, Garant v. Winchester, the court ultimately dismissed the plaintiff’s amended petition naming the condo association in the lawsuit because it was filed after the applicable statute of limitations had expired.

The Facts of the Case

In August 2010, Mrs. Garant tripped and fell outside 18-20 Woodland Court in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Believing that her fall was precipitated by a dangerous condition on the property, Garant planned on filing a premises liability case against the two owners of the property. Garant was aware that the property was maintained by a condo association, and she set out to determine the specific association that was in charge of the maintenance at the location so that the association could also be named in the lawsuit.

Garant consulted with the insurance company that covered the property and was informed that the association in charge of maintaining the premises was named the Woodland Court Condo Association. Garant also hired a title examiner to search the Registry of Deeds for the name of the association. That search revealed that the name of the association was 18-20 Woodland Condo Association. Garant finally searched the Secretary of Commerce’s database for the name of the association and was unable to come up with a result matching her query.

Garant filed the case in 2013 – just days before the statute of limitations was set to expire – against both individual owners as well as XYZ Corporation, a fictitious entity to stand in for the actual association name until it could be ascertained with certainty. In November 2013, Garant was made aware of the true name of the association, which was 18-20 Woodland Condo Association. However, she did not amend her petition until August 2014.

The Association asked for the case to be dismissed because the amended complaint naming it as a defendant was filed after the three-year statute of limitations had run. The plaintiff claimed that she did not know with certainty what the true name of the Association was. However, the court sided with the defendant, explaining that in reality, the plaintiff was provided the correct name of the Association when she contacted the insurance company shortly after her accident. While the court did not explicitly say so, the fact that the plaintiff was not diligent in amending the complaint likely played a role in the court’s decision.

The Importance of a Diligent and Knowledgeable Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a loved one have recently been injured in a Washington, D.C. slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, there are many rules that plaintiffs must follow, and a failure to do so can be grounds for dismissal of even the most meritorious case. Having a skilled personal injury attorney on your side can help you feel confident that you are following all required procedural court rules. The skilled advocates at the Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers have the experience and dedication that will make you feel comfortable leaving your case in their hands. With hundreds of successful cases under their belt, you can rest assured you are in good hands. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

The Summary Judgment Standard in Washington, D.C. Personal Injury Cases, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, December 16, 2016

Plaintiff’s Product Liability Case Allowed to Proceed Under Strict Liability Theory, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, December 9, 2016

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