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. I commend Joe for standing up to this tyrant attorney! You ask why? Well I’m one of David Steele victims. I was in desperate need of legal help to protect my child, David saw an opportunity, and he demanded I pay him $3000. Cash. As I received motions and orders from court he did nothing! After weeks of emails asking him to address the legal issues, he responded by saying he was “on vacation “and I should be so lucky to have “my attorney” reply. Finally after lie on top of lie I asked for a full refund, which he refused. He then sent me “bills” for things he never did, such as, his appearance in the case and later claimed he withdrew. He never filed one document / motion for my case! When I finally demanded he refund my money he then turn to threats which scared my family for our lives. It seem unreal we couldn’t believe this guy. I am now over $100,000 in debt digging out of the legal mess he caused my family. Later I was finally able to hire another law office. I met Joe and we worked diligently on my case. I soon learn Joe had a passion for helping people. As anyone who has been through a legal battle it is exhausting. Joe was always more than happy to help or address an issue. Joe was knowledgeable about all my concerns at the same time he was able to reduce the stress and anxieties of my case. He would stay late and come in early, he always went the extra mile to help in any way he could. I can only imagine what Joe and his family has been through, my prayers go out to him and all the victims.

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  4. I think it is safe to say that those Hoosier's with the most confidence in the Indiana judicial system are those Hoosier's who have never had the displeasure of dealing with the Hoosier court system.

  5. I have an open CHINS case I failed a urine screen I have since got clean completed IOP classes now in after care passed home inspection my x sister in law has my children I still don't even have unsupervised when I have been clean for over 4 months my x sister wants to keep the lids for good n has my case working with her I just discovered n have proof that at one of my hearing dcs case worker stated in court to the judge that a screen was dirty which caused me not to have unsupervised this was at the beginning two weeks after my initial screen I thought the weed could have still been in my system was upset because they were suppose to check levels n see if it was going down since this was only a few weeks after initial instead they said dirty I recently requested all of my screens from redwood because I take prescriptions that will show up n I was having my doctor look at levels to verify that matched what I was prescripted because dcs case worker accused me of abuseing when I got my screens I found out that screen I took that dcs case worker stated in court to judge that caused me to not get granted unsupervised was actually negative what can I do about this this is a serious issue saying a parent failed a screen in court to judge when they didn't please advise