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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 just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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