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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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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