On August 15, 2017, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed summary judgment in favor of Coakley & Williams Hotel Management Company in Demisew v. Coakley & Williams Hotel The case stems from a slip and fall at a Days Inn, managed by Coakley & Williams on October 16, 2013. Specifically, plaintiff Gela Demisew fell down a stairwell at the Days Inn, due to an allegedly slippery step. She alleged that Coakley & Williams were negligent in allowing this dangerous condition to persist.
In September 2015, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Coakley & Williams and the Plaintiff filed a timely appeal. On appeal, the Plaintiff argued that Coakley & Williams owed her a duty, as a business invitee, to exercise reasonable care in discovering the dangerous condition. To support her assertion, the Plaintiff alleged that Coakley & Williams only had the stairwell cleaned on a weekly or “as needed” basis. Further, the Plaintiff asserted that it rained on the day of the accident and someone could have tracked water into the stairwell as a result.
However, the Plaintiff testified that she did not know the substance she slipped on and never revisited the accident site. Further, the director of maintenance at the Days Inn testified that the maintenance staff walked the property twice per day including the stairwells. The director of maintenance also noted that the stairwell was cleaned once per day and no issues were documented on the date of the accident.
Thus, the court held that the Plaintiff merely speculated at the cause of her slip and fall and did not put forth any evidence to show whether the step was slippery or that the hotel had constructive notice of the alleged dangerous condition. Thus, the grant of summary judgment was proper. Had plaintiff testified that she was certain she slipped on tracked in rain water, as opposed to being uncertain of what she slipped on, she may have raised an issue of fact as to defendant’s negligence. Thanks to Garrett Gittler for his contribution to this post. Please email Brian Gibbons with any questions.