Published on:

bathroomIn a recent Texas slip and fall case, the plaintiff had sued the owner and operator of the apartment complex where he used to live. He claimed that one night in January, he slipped and fell on damaged laminate flooring in his apartment. He claimed that the defendants had failed to keep a safe living environment and carelessly left damaged bath flooring. He alleged that he suffered severe pain due to back and neck injuries, and he stated damages of more than $450,000.

The defendants answered with a general denial and two motions for summary judgment. They claimed that he could respond with premises liability or negligent activity and that even though his petition didn’t specify his precise theory of negligence, the issue was solely a premises liability dispute.

The defendants argued that to recover damages based on a premises liability theory, the victim needed to prove they had actual or constructive knowledge of the property condition that presented an unreasonable risk of injury. They also argued that to recover damages under the negligent activity theory, the plaintiff had to show their affirmative contemporaneous actions caused the injuries. They also argued that to win under a gross negligence theory, he had to establish a negligent act or omission that involved an extreme chance of risk and that the actor actually, subjectively was aware of this risk, but continued on with conscious indifference to others’ welfare.

Continue reading →

Published on:

school busIn a recent Texas bus accident decision, the court considered the parents’ claim that a school district had caused their son’s death. The son, who was disabled, started going to school in the district at age three. The district picked him up in a bus used to pick up disabled students. The boy would stay in his wheelchair while being lifted onto the bus, and the wheelchair was locked into place by the district employees. The bus had both a driver and an attendant.

One day in December, the boy became unresponsive while traveling to school in the bus. The driver and attendant saw he was in distress and stopped the bus. They waited for an ambulance rather than take him to a nearby ER. They didn’t try to resuscitate him while they waited. However, their decisions to stop and wait for an ambulance were in accord with District procedures related to students who face conditions requiring medical care while traveling on the school buses.

Within an hour of getting on the bus, the boy died. His parents sued the district in the following year for wrongful death and survival damages. They later amended their complaint to allege that the bus driver had negligently driven such that their son had been tossed around in his wheelchair, that the driver had driven at an unsafe speed and disregarded curbs, bumps, and stops, that District employees hadn’t properly used available mirrors and cameras to observe their son during the trip, and that locks on the support chair were used in an unsafe and negligent way.

Continue reading →

Published on:

hallwayIn a recent Texas premises liability decision, the court considered a slip and fall that occurred in the Corrections Center. A woman was going with her family member to pretrial services when she slipped on water in the hallway. She sued the county, and it claimed it had governmental immunity that barred her claims.

A pretrial services caseworker saw the puddle in front of the men’s restroom, which was in an alcove separate from the hall where the plaintiff slipped. When the caseworker saw it, the puddle was about two feet long and didn’t go into the hallway. She told support staff about the puddle, and it was their procedure to call maintenance. She assumed they didn’t but didn’t know.

An hour later, the plaintiff slipped on the water that had progressed into the hallway. The caseworker didn’t see the fall but saw her there afterward. Later, she would testify that the puddle had flowed into the hallway, although she admitted she hadn’t seen the initial puddle move or flow when she saw it.

Continue reading →

Published on:

gunA recent Texas wrongful death decision arose when a college freshman was shot and killed on a university campus. He was on his way to class when he was shot and killed. On the prior evening, another shooting happened in the parking lot of the same dorm. His mother sued the university for negligence and gross negligence.

She claimed that the university’s employees, representatives, and agents failed to use reasonable care in warning parents and students about the risk of harm on campus and in providing adequate security and taking steps to stop criminal activity.

The university filed a plea to the jurisdiction and a motion to dismiss the mother’s claims on the basis of governmental immunity. The mother argued that immunity was waived by the Texas Tort Claims Act, since the death was caused by a condition or use of real property or personal property. The trial court denied the motion and allowed the plaintiff a month to amend her complaint. The university filed an interlocutory appeal, arguing that her petition affirmatively negated jurisdiction.

Continue reading →

Published on:

ladderIn a recent Texas premises liability decision, a man sued a company for injuries he suffered while visiting to conduct maintenance on the company’s air conditioning unit. The case arose when an independent contractor working for a filter company was sent to a seafood restaurant operated and owned by the defendant. When he got there, he was shown by managers the ladder and overhead opening that he had to use to gain access to the air conditioners.

Once he’d replaced the filters, he opened the hatch to go down the ladder, but as he closed it, it slammed shut on his right hand. He drew back, lost his balance, and fell about 10-12 feet. He had to go the ER and sustained several injuries. He sued, and the defendant moved for summary judgment. It argued that the record showed he couldn’t meet his burden of proof for the prerequisites for liability under Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Chapter 95, and he didn’t have evidence to prove premises liability.

The plaintiff put forward evidence in response, including deposition testimony from the defendant’s designated representative and his own expert. The designated representative testified that he’d worked at the restaurant in question since the start of 2012. He testified that while working at the store, he’d ascended and descended the ladder, and he’d used the hatch numerous times. He said he’d never had trouble with doing these things, and he didn’t know of anybody else being hurt or having trouble with them.

Continue reading →

Published on:

car crashIn a recent Texas appellate decision, a woman challenged the lower court’s judgment in a lawsuit for negligence and wrongful death. Among other things, she claimed the lower court had made a mistake in admitting a video recording of an experiment that had happened outside of court.

The case arose when the plaintiffs claimed that a minivan had crashed into a sedan driven by the defendant at an intersection controlled by a traffic signal. The minivan passenger was the mother of the plaintiffs, and she suffered fatal injuries, dying after the accident. The plaintiffs claimed the defendant had not used ordinary care in going into the intersection without paying attention to the red traffic light, not controlling her car’s speed, and not looking out carefully or applying her brakes on time. They claimed her failure to use ordinary care was the legal cause of their mother’s death and asked for loss of companionship and mental anguish as their damages, in addition to more concrete damages.

The defendant denied the claim and said the accident was caused by the driver of the car in which the decedent was riding. The defendant lived on that street and was familiar with the signal at issue. She claimed the light was green as she headed toward the intersection, and there were no other cars on the road in front of her, although there were stopped cars on the intersecting street. There was some discrepancy in her claims about stopped cars.

Continue reading →

Published on:

golf courseIn a recent Texas premises liability case, the plaintiff was a member of a country club that had a golf course. He also owned an associated condo unit. The 16th hole of the gold course had an elevated green, around which were cliffs. While playing that hole, the plaintiff tripped, rolled, and fell off the side. His shoulder was severely injured.

The plaintiff sued the ranch, the designer, and the owner of the country club, claiming gross negligence, negligence, and premises liability. They filed motions for summary judgment. The lower court granted summary judgment in favor of them. He acknowledged documents related to his membership at the country club and his ownership of the associated condominium unit included releases that acknowledged and assumed risks associated with the club facilities.

He claimed that a supplemental declaration violated the statute of frauds and that the release wasn’t enforceable because it didn’t meet the fair notice requirements. The evidence wasn’t disputed that he signed a lot sales contract in buying a condo unit. The agreement stated the unit he was contracting to buy was subject to restrictions and conditions. The agreement included a defined term. The declaration referenced a statement that a copy of the documents had been gotten by the buyer. The contract also stated that the declaration was recorded.

Continue reading →

Published on:

traffic lightA recent Texas truck accident decision arose out of a pickup truck accident. An equipment company had employed a man as a driver. While driving in the course and scope of his employment in November 2012, the man got into an accident. At trial, the jury received conflicting evidence about what happened to cause the accident and the plaintiff’s injuries.

The plaintiff was driving east in a pickup one morning. When he came to an intersection with a yellow light, he slowed down, and the light turned red. The intersection was east of a school zone, where the speed limit was 30 mph. After he stopped, the plaintiff saw the equipment company employee driving toward him from behind in another pickup. The plaintiff estimated the other driver was moving at 45 mph when he struck the plaintiff’s truck from behind.

The impact was hard, according to the plaintiff. The plaintiff experienced pain in his neck, shoulders, and back, and he testified that the force pulled his seat loose from the hinges fixing it in place. He also presented deposition testimony from the other driver, in which the other driver admitted his fault and testified that he believed the plaintiff was hurt. He also presented the employer’s representative’s deposition testimony. The deponent testified that the employee had written out a statement in which he admitted that in his opinion, he was at fault for the accident, and the deponent testified that the employer agreed.

Continue reading →

Published on:

rodeoIn a recent Texas premises liability lawsuit, the plaintiff sued a property owner for premises liability and negligence after tripping over a floor mat at a rodeo. The rodeo was operated at NRG Park for three weeks in March. NRG Park was made up of three entities (including a stadium, arena, and center) and owned by a corporation that hired a management company to oversee the daily operations of the NRG Park complex.

The center had concrete floors, and the management company was supposed to install rubber mats there based on the rodeo’s lease agreement. These mats were stored during times of non-operation. While the event was being prepared, the rodeo told the management company where to put the floor mats. These were unrolled and duct taped together. However, they were not taped to the floor.

After the rodeo started, the rodeo would have responsibility for maintaining the mats. The management company was supposed to assist by replacing tape where necessary.

Continue reading →

Published on:

dogIn a recent Texas dog bite decision, the plaintiff sued after suffering injuries from a dog bite. The case arose in 2013 when he went with his girlfriend to the defendants’ house to meet the girlfriend’s father, who was staying with the defendants. He didn’t know the defendants, and the defendants didn’t know that either the plaintiff or his girlfriend were planning to come by the house.

The plaintiff and his girlfriend stood on the front porch and knocked. Nobody was home. After some time, the girlfriend opened the unlocked front door. The defendants’ dog, who was a 22-month-old Akita, came to the door. The plaintiff had stayed on the front porch and tried to shut the door when he saw the Akita. The dog went through the open door and bit him. Even though he was bitten, the plaintiff pushed the dog back into the house and shut the door. He had to go to the hospital.

He sued the defendants for negligent handling of an animal and for strict liability for a dangerous domesticated animal. He added negligence theories to an amended complaint. He claimed they were negligent per se for violating a duty set forth under section 822.042 of the Texas Health and Safety Code and that they should be held liable under premises liability law. He later amended again to add negligence per se. The trial court granted the defendants’ summary judgment motion.

Continue reading →