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Defendant’s General Knowledge of a Dangerous Condition is held to be Sufficient to Deny Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a Slip and Fall Action.

August 25, 2015 By Emily F. Belanger

In the case of Schneider v. Ed’s Marine Superstore, Inc., No. SAG-14-1035 (D. Md. July 17, 2015), the Court was faced with determining whether a Plaintiff’s evidence rose above the level of mere speculation.  Plaintiff, who was attending a boat show, boarded a display boat and while boarding slipped and fell.  Plaintiff alleged that the Defendants were negligent and that their negligence resulted in a hazardous condition on the display boat, namely a “defective, slippery, and wet deck” and unsafe boarding route. 

Under Maryland law, in order to prove that a business invitor breached a duty, the invitee must show, not only that a dangerous condition existed, but also that the proprietor had actual or constructive knowledge of it, and that that knowledge was gained in sufficient time to give the owner the opportunity to remove it or to warn the invitee.  The Defendants filed a Motion for Summary Judgment arguing, in part, that the Plaintiff failed to show that the Defendants had actual or constructive notice of the purportedly dangerous condition.

The Court, in analyzing Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff’s Opposition, noted that the Defendants installed, inspected and certified the display boat and that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to conclude that “at some point during installation, inspection, and certification process, Defendants created, became aware, or should have become aware, of the dangers associated with boarding the display boat.”

Accordingly, the Court denied the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment.