DONALD VAN SYCKEL and DONALD VAN SYCKEL o/b/o MOLLY VAN SYCKEL, Plaintiffs
800 NORTHERN CORP., Defendant
MADELINE MALISA ESQ.
MARTICA DOUGLAS ESQ.
ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY
the court is defendant 800 Northern Corporation's motion
for summary judgment in plaintiff Donald Van Syckel's
negligence action. Plaintiff brings this action on behalf of
himself and on behalf of his late wife, Molly Van Syckel. For
the following reasons, the motion is granted.
January 10, 2013, plaintiff and Ms. Van Syckel went to the
law office of Petrucelli, Martin and Haddow at 2 Monument
Square in Portland. (Supp. S.M.F. ¶¶ 1-3.) They
entered the building through the parking garage door.
(Id. ¶ 2.) They met with Ms. Van Syckel's
attorney and picked up a settlement check arising from a
prior slip and fall accident. (Id. ¶ 4.) The
prior slip and fall accident occurred when Ms. Van Syckel
fell while leaving a store in Scarborough in 2009.
(Id. ¶ 5.)
one hour after they arrived, plaintiff and Ms. Van Syckel
exited the building through the same parking garage
door. (Id. ¶ 6.) There is a single
step or landing between the garage door and the garage floor.
(Pl.'s Addfl S.M.F. ¶ 29.) Ms. Van Syckel fell
outside the door. (Supp. S.M.F. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff did not
see her fall because he was walking in front of her.
(Id. ¶ 8.) However, when he turned around she
was on the ground. (Id. ¶ 9.) She was lying
with her feet toward the door and her head pointed away from
the door. (Pl.'s Addt'l S.M.F. ¶ 18.) Her feet
were approximately three to five feet from the step.
(Id. ¶ 19.) No part of her body had landed on
the step. (Id.)
time of Ms. Van Syckel's fall, the doorway was free from
obstructions, including water and ice. (Supp. S.M.F. ¶
10.) The rise of the step was painted yellow and read
"WATCH YOUR STEP." (Id., ¶ 12.) The top of the
tread was not painted yellow and was not marked with a
warning or a conspicuous border. (Id. ¶ 13;
Pl.'s Addt'l S.M.F. ¶ 23.) The step and the
garage floor were a similar color. (Pl.'s Addt'l S.M.F.
¶ 22.) There was no railing on the step. (Id.
¶ 24.) Prior to Ms. Van Syckel's fall, there had
been no other reported falls at this location. (Supp. S.M.F.
parties dispute whether Ms. Van Syckel suffered a seizure
before her fall. Plaintiff claims she did not. (Pl.'s
Addt'l S.M.F. ¶ 26.) Defendant claims that Ms. Van
Syckel's medical report from the day of the accident
indicates that she suffered a "syncopal episode"
and that she had suffered a "grand mal seizure"
approximately one year earlier. (Def.'s Reply S.M.F.
filed his complaint on July 6, 2015. Plaintiff alleges two
causes of action: count I, negligence; and count II, loss of
consortium. Defendant moved for summary judgment on February
3, 2016. Plaintiff filed an opposition on February 22, 2016.
Defendant filed a reply on March 7, 2016.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions,
answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together
with the affidavits, if any . . . show that there is no
genuine issue as to any material fact." M.R. Civ. P.
56(c). "A material fact is one that can affect the
outcome of the case, and there is a genuine issue when there
is sufficient evidence for a fact-finder to choose between
competing versions of the fact." Mcllroy v.
Gibson's Apple Orchard,2012 ME 59, ¶ 7, 43
A.3d 948 (citation omitted). "Even when one party's
version of the facts appears more credible and persuasive to
the court, any genuine factual dispute must be resolved