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Appeals court reverses summary judgment in freezing-fog fall

September 8, 2014

A medical worker who sued her employer after slipping and falling in a parking lot made slick by freezing fog may proceed with her lawsuit, a divided Court of Appeals panel ruled, reversing summary judgment in favor of a Richmond hospital.

In Lori A. Henderson v. Reid Hospital and Healthcare Services, 89A04-1311-CT-550, Lori Henderson sued after she was injured when she fell on the slick parking lot. She claimed the hospital didn’t exercise reasonable care, even though it had called maintenance crews who had spread salt before she arrived for work.

Summary judgment was inappropriate, the appeals panel majority ruled, and only would be appropriate if the facts were undisputed and only one inference can be drawn from the facts. “We do not believe this is such a case,” Judge James Kirsch wrote in an opinion joined by Judge Mark Bailey.

“Given the facts most favorable to Henderson,” the majority held, “we believe that there are material issues of facts as to whether the Hospital breached its duty to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition and to whether it acted reasonably in response to the knowledge of ice accumulation on the parking lots and sidewalks of the premises. We, therefore, reverse the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the Hospital and remand for further proceedings.”

Judge Melissa May would affirm the trial court. “I can draw no inference from the undisputed facts before us except that the Hospital did everything it could do to deal with the weather on the morning in question,” she wrote in dissent.


 

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