State Supreme Court Finds in Favor of Slip-and-Fall Victim on Sovereign Immunity Issue

Earlier this month, the Texas Supreme Court decided a case in favor of a slip-and-fall plaintiff who was injured when they were spectating at a local softball game. In the case, Lawson v. City of Diboll, the plaintiff was injured when she tripped and fell on a hollow pipe that was protruding out of the sidewalk.

Evidently, the woman tripped on a hollow pipe that was protruding about four inches above the pavement. The pipe was painted yellow and usually had a pole inside it that prevented vehicles from driving onto the field. However, on the day in question the pole was not stuck in the pipe, and the only indication of the pipe’s existence was its bright yellow color.

The woman sued the City of Diboll, who owned and operated the fields, claiming that the City violated its duty of ordinary care by creating an unreasonable risk of harm and failing to “provide a safe walkway passage free of obstacles.”

At Trial

At trial, the City relied on the doctrine of sovereign immunity to argue that it could not be held liable for the damages. The specific clause at issue granted a city immunity from lawsuits arising out of the recreational use of its facilities unless a higher standard of negligence can be shown by the plaintiff. In other words, the plaintiff would need to show that the City was more than just “negligent” in order to waive the City’s immunity.

The trial court determined that the woman was engaged in a “recreational” activity, and thus the heightened liability standard applied. Since the woman was unable to show that the City’s conduct met that higher standard, the City enjoyed immunity from suit, and the court was not able to hear the case.

On Appeal

On appeal to the Supreme Court of Texas, the Court determined that the plaintiff was not engaging in a recreational activity when she was observing a sporting event. The Court noted that there was a newly released opinion that came out between when the lower court decided the case and this Court hearing the case. The lower court did not have the benefit of that decision and therefore was led to the wrong conclusion. The case was reversed and remanded to the lower court in order for the plaintiff’s case to continue forward toward trial.

Have You Been Injured in a Premises Liability Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any slip-and-fall or premises liability accident in Washington DC or Maryland, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. As you can see from the above case, a deep knowledge of the relevant case law is imperative in obtaining a favorable result in most cases. If a plaintiff is not armed with the most recent case law, grave mistakes can be made that may result in irreparable harm to their case. To speak with a dedicated and experienced Maryland personal injury attorney, call one of the skilled advocates at the Maryland-based law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, today at 410-654-3600.

More Blog Posts:

Man Sues Wal-Mart after Allegedly Faulty Boots Cause Serious Injury, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, September 23, 2015

Investigation Continues in Accident that Seriously Injured Comedian Tracy Morgan and Killed One Other, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, August 13, 2015

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