ILNews

Question over who should have mown grass prevents summary judgment

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A trial court’s decision to grant summary judgment to a homeowner after a man slipped and fell on her property was overturned when the Indiana Court of Appeals found sufficient dispute over material facts.

The Court of Appeals reversed the order for summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings in Ralph Stockton v. Falls Auctioneers and Realtors and Peggy Buck as Trustee of the Peggy Buck Trust, 18A05-1304-CT-160.
 
Peggy Buck had hired Falls Auctioneers to conduct an auction of her personal property. While Ralph Stockton was at the event inspecting a lawnmower, his feet became entangled in some chains causing him to fall and break his hip. Stockton claimed he could not see the chains lying on the ground because of the lawn had not been mowed.

The Delaware Circuit Court granted summary judgment to Buck.

However, the Court of Appeals found there are questions of fact as to whether Stockton’s fall was caused, in part, by the length of the grass and whether Buck controlled the condition of the property.

Buck maintained she was not in control of the property at the time of Stockton’s fall. She had hired Falls Auctioneers to do the auction, so Falls was in control of the property and therefore had the duty to Stockton in premises liability.

Stockton countered there is no evidence that Buck relinquished control over the condition and maintenance of the premises, including mowing the grass.

The COA found the contract contains no language that Buck surrendered control of her property or that Falls agreed to be responsible for the condition of the premises. Also, there is no evidence which suggested Buck was unable to have the grass mowed prior to auction.

Moreover, the Court of Appeals pointed out, the question has not been answered as to whether Stockton’s fall was caused, at least in part, by the length of the grass.

Judge Elaine Brown concluded, “There is sufficient factual dispute regarding control of the condition of the premises and in particular the length of the grass that a trier of fact should decide the question.”

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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