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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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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