It is a rare, challenging, feat to obtain summary judgment in a defendant’s favor in a negligence action involving a slip and fall. However, this is exactly what Rosenthal Law Group did recently when the Honorable Rodolfo Ruiz of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit entered a sixteen page Final Judgment granting Rosenthal Law Group’s Motion for Summary Judgment filed in favor of the defendant/landowner in the case of Shelice McKenzie v. Fifteen Florida Multifamily, LLC, dba Horizons North Apartments, and Fifteen Asset Management, LLC.
This case involved a slip and fall incident occurring on April 22, 2009 in the laundry room of an apartment complex. The plaintiff maintained that she was a tenant in the apartment complex and that the defendants, as the owners, operators and/or entities in control of the premises, were negligent in creating and/or not correcting a dangerous condition, to wit: water on the laundry room floor. Rosenthal Law Group filed a motion for summary judgment on defendants’ behalf wherein they argued that the undisputed evidence establishes that: (1) defendants had no knowledge of the water on the laundry room floor that allegedly resulted in plaintiff’s slip and fall; (2) defendants never received any complaints about water being on the laundry room floor or generally about conditions of the laundry room; (3) defendants had maintenance staff that performed routine, daily inspections of the laundry rooms, including the subject laundry room, three times a day and that the subject laundry room had been inspected and confirmed in a clean and safe condition within the hour prior to the slip and fall.
Prior to the hearing on the motion for summary judgment, plaintiff filed an affidavit of her mother in an attempt to create a genuine issue of material fact prevent the entry of summary judgment. Relying upon the arguments made by Rosenthal Law Group, the Court ultimately ruled that the affidavit was insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact, and the entry of summary judgment was warranted, because the affidavit contradicted prior testimony in the case, was vague, conclusory and didn’t contain facts based on personal knowledge.
Rosenthal Law Group argued that the plaintiff’s mother’s affidavit contradicted plaintiff’s previous deposition testimony wherein plaintiff testified that her mother had no personal knowledge of the conditions of the laundry room and, further, the affiant provided no credible explanation for the discrepancy in the affidavit. Based upon such, the Court found that plaintiff was precluded from relying upon her mother’s affidavit in opposition to the motion for summary judgment. Moreover, Rosenthal Law Group argued, and the Court agreed, that the affidavit was also nevertheless insufficient because if the Court were to rely upon it, the Court would be required to engage in an impermissible stacking of inferences in order to create a factual issue. The judgment was appealed by the plaintiff to the Third District Court of Appeal, but no decisions have been made on appeal.
This is a victory not only for Rosenthal Law Group and its clients, but also for all landowners and insurers alike. The attorneys at Rosenthal Law Group are available to assist in the defense of any and all negligence cases, including slip and fall cases, as well as assisting clients to set up good procedures to avoid claims like these.