Defense Successes
Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Section: Fall 2019

Defense Win 

Lori O’Tool won summary judgment in a slip in fall 

On July 26, 2019, the Honorable Michael Scott granted summary judgment in favor of Preg, O'Donnell & Gillett's clients after hearing oral argument from POG member Lori O'Tool. The plaintiff allegedly slipped and fell while shopping at a Washington retail property owned and managed by POG’s clients. The plaintiff further claimed that she slipped and fell on water entering the premises through a leak in the roof, which was arguably under the defendants’ control. The Judge found plaintiff failed to present evidence, even after written discovery and depositions had been completed, that POG’s clients had actual or constructive knowledge of the alleged roof leak at any time prior to the incident. 

Accordingly, Ms. O’Tool and her associate, Lauren Titchbourne, moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to establish notice—a prerequisite to establishing a landowner’s duty for transitory hazards.  The plaintiff opposed the motion by arguing that the fact of the leak’s existence satisfied her obligation to demonstrate that POG’s clients were on notice of the alleged hazard. Judge Scott agreed with Ms. O’Tool’s position and analysis that plaintiff’s position was not the law in Washington, and ruled from the bench that POG's clients should be dismissed from the premises liability lawsuit.