COA split over reversing summary judgment in slip-and-fall case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals was divided Wednesday over whether a Merrillville store failed to preserve its issue of prejudice by opposing summary judgment granted to two companies in a negligence lawsuit filed by a woman who fell on ice in front of the northern Indiana Pier 1 Imports store.

Carolyn Harris fell on an ice-covered sidewalk in front of the Pier 1 store as an employee was salting the sidewalk. Pier 1’s lease agreement with Acadia Merrillville Realty requires Acadia keep the sidewalk free from ice and snow. Acadia contracted with Boyd Construction Company to provide that work. Harris and her husband sued the three companies, which all filed for summary judgment. The trial court ruled Acadia and Boyd didn’t breach their respective duties of care and granted summary judgment for them. The court denied Pier 1’s motion, as well as its motion to correct error.

In Pier 1 Imports (U.S.), Inc., v. Acadia Merrillville Realty, L.P. and Boyd Construction Company, Inc., 45A03-1207-CT-318, Acadia and Boyd argued Pier 1 lacks standing to challenge the awards because it failed to preserve the issue of prejudice by objecting to Acadia’s and Boyd’s motions or advising the trial court of an intent to allocate fault to Acadia and Boyd as nonparties.

“Because Pier 1 did not have an opportunity to object to Acadia’s and Boyd’s dismissal prior to the court’s ruling on their motions for summary judgment, we conclude that Pier 1 has standing to appeal,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote for the majority, which included Judge Patricia Riley.

The majority went on to find that whether Acadia was discharged of its duty of care merely by contracting with Boyd is a question for the jury to decide. And, because there is evidence that additional salting was necessary after Boyd had already salted the sidewalk, a jury could reasonably infer that Boyd failed to exercise reasonable care in performing the snow and ice removal services, Bradford wrote.

Judge Elaine Brown dissented, believing Pier 1 had a practical opportunity to object to the motions for summary judgment by Acadia and Boyd prior to their dismissal. She cited U-Haul Intern Inc. v. Nulls Machine and Mfg. Shop, 736 N.E.2d 271, 280 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), Nationwide Ins. Co. v. Parmer, 958 N.E.2d 802, 807 (Ind. Ct. App. 2011), and the Indiana Supreme Court opinions upon which those decisions rely to support her decision that Pier 1 waived its claim for appeal.



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  1. I think the cops are doing a great job locking up criminals. The Murder rates in the inner cities are skyrocketing and you think that too any people are being incarcerated. Maybe we need to lock up more of them. We have the ACLU, BLM, NAACP, Civil right Division of the DOJ, the innocent Project etc. We have court system with an appeal process that can go on for years, with attorneys supplied by the government. I'm confused as to how that translates into the idea that the defendants are not being represented properly. Maybe the attorneys need to do more Pro-Bono work

  2. We do not have 10% of our population (which would mean about 32 million) incarcerated. It's closer to 2%.

  3. If a class action suit or other manner of retribution is possible, count me in. I have email and voicemail from the man. He colluded with opposing counsel, I am certain. My case was damaged so severely it nearly lost me everything and I am still paying dearly.

  4. There's probably a lot of blame that can be cast around for Indiana Tech's abysmal bar passage rate this last February. The folks who decided that Indiana, a state with roughly 16,000 to 18,000 attorneys, needs a fifth law school need to question the motives that drove their support of this project. Others, who have been "strong supporters" of the law school, should likewise ask themselves why they believe this institution should be supported. Is it because it fills some real need in the state? Or is it, instead, nothing more than a resume builder for those who teach there part-time? And others who make excuses for the students' poor performance, especially those who offer nothing more than conspiracy theories to back up their claims--who are they helping? What evidence do they have to support their posturing? Ultimately, though, like most everything in life, whether one succeeds or fails is entirely within one's own hands. At least one student from Indiana Tech proved this when he/she took and passed the February bar. A second Indiana Tech student proved this when they took the bar in another state and passed. As for the remaining 9 who took the bar and didn't pass (apparently, one of the students successfully appealed his/her original score), it's now up to them (and nobody else) to ensure that they pass on their second attempt. These folks should feel no shame; many currently successful practicing attorneys failed the bar exam on their first try. These same attorneys picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and got back to the rigorous study needed to ensure they would pass on their second go 'round. This is what the Indiana Tech students who didn't pass the first time need to do. Of course, none of this answers such questions as whether Indiana Tech should be accredited by the ABA, whether the school should keep its doors open, or, most importantly, whether it should have even opened its doors in the first place. Those who promoted the idea of a fifth law school in Indiana need to do a lot of soul-searching regarding their decisions. These same people should never be allowed, again, to have a say about the future of legal education in this state or anywhere else. Indiana already has four law schools. That's probably one more than it really needs. But it's more than enough.

  5. This man Steve Hubbard goes on any online post or forum he can find and tries to push his company. He said court reporters would be obsolete a few years ago, yet here we are. How does he have time to search out every single post about court reporters and even spy in private court reporting forums if his company is so successful???? Dude, get a life. And back to what this post was about, I agree that some national firms cause a huge problem.