Court Finds Determining Which Party is Liable is an Issue for the Jury in Massachusetts Premises Liability Case

If you suffer injuries in a slip and fall in a public area such as a hotel garage, it may not immediately be evident who is responsible for maintaining the portion of the premises in which you were injured. Massachusetts law permits you to pursue claims against all parties that may be potentially liable, and where it is unclear which party’s negligence caused your injury, it is left to the fact finder to determine liability.

Recently, in a case before the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the court held that it was up to the jury to decide whether a hotel or a company that provided valet service for the hotel was responsible for injuries suffered by an individual who fell in the hotel parking lot. If you sustained an injury because of someone else’s negligent behavior, it is in your best interest to meet with an experienced Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss your options for seeking compensation from the party that caused your harm.

Facts Surrounding the Plaintiff’s Injury

The plaintiff worked as a manager for a rental car company at a location in a Boston hotel. He was responsible for checking nine parking spots in the hotel’s garage. He was inspecting the spots in the spring of 2014 when he claimed that he tripped and fell on an uncovered drain hole in one of the parking spots. He sustained serious injuries in the fall.

The hotel allegedly repaired drains when a defect was reported and hired a third-party to clean the drains. Additionally, a valet service was responsible for the maintenance and cleanliness of the area that included the parking spaces. When the valet service cleaned the garage floor it would occasionally remove drain covers to empty water. Based on the foregoing, the plaintiff sued both the hotel and the valet service, alleging their negligence caused his accident and subsequent injuries. The valet service filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court denied.

Duty of Care Owed to Plaintiff

The valet service argued that the plaintiff did not have a reasonable expectation of showing negligence, and therefore, the plaintiff’s claims against the valet service should be dismissed. Specifically, the valet service argued there was no evidence it removed the drain cover. The valet service also argued it did not have control over the garage, and that the danger was open and obvious. The court rejected the valet service’s arguments. First, the court found that the valet service’s contractual obligation to clean and maintain the garage imposed a duty of care owed to the plaintiff as a matter of law. Additionally, the court stated the even if the danger posed by the open drain was open and obvious, it would only relieve the valet service of the duty to warn and not the duty of care. The court stated that whether the valet service or hotel acted negligently in leaving the drain uncovered was a question for the jury. As such, the court denied the valet service’s motion for summary judgment.

Consult a Seasoned Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney

If you were injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to pursue damages for your harm. You should consult a seasoned Massachusetts personal injury attorney to discuss the facts of your case. The personal injury attorneys of the Law Office of James K. Meehan will aggressively advocate on your behalf to help you obtain a successful outcome under the circumstances. We can be reached at 508-822-6600 or through our online form to set up a free and confidential consultation.

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