SHELLY CORO, as Personal Representative of the ESTATE OF GERALD GIROUX Plaintiff,
RICHARD E. HADLEY d/b/a R. E. HADLEY and MAURICE FRAPPIER, JR., Defendants.
ORDER ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY
the Court is Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment.
August 26, 2014, Mr. Gerald Giroux, as he attempted to exit
his home, fell down the steps and hit his head causing a
catastrophic head injury which led to his death. Plaintiff
Shelly Coro, Personal Representative of the Estate of Gerald
Giroux, brings this action for faulty work performed for Mr.
Giroux in the construction of a carport for his home.
Plaintiff alleges that Defendants' negligent work kept
the front door from opening completely. Plaintiff alleges
that the front door was only able to open a little more than
a foot, that Mr. Giroux got caught between the door and the
doorframe, cut himself, lost his balance, and fell down the
stairs, hitting his head at the base of the stairwell.
According to Plaintiff, Mr. Giroux's wife, Mrs. Elena
Giroux, saw Mr. Giroux open the door, get caught, cut himself
and lose his balance. She did not see the fall, but instead
heard the loud crashing sound upon his landing. Defendant
contends that Mrs. Giroux did not witness enough of the event
to provide valuable information concerning how Mr. Giroux
fell. Mr. Giroux did not say anything concerning the fall
between the fall and when he passed away. Mrs. Giroux was the
only witness. Mrs. Giroux passed away shortly after her
brings the following claims: Survival Action pursuant to 18-A
M.R.S. § 3-804, Wrongful Death pursuant to 18-A M.R.S.
§ 3-804, Conscious Pain and Suffering pursuant to 18-A
M.R.S. § 3-804(c), Unfair Trade Practices Act pursuant
to 5 M.R.S. § 205-A and Home Construction Contracts
pursuant to 10 M.R.S. § 1487. Defendant moves the Court
for Summary Judgment.
Standard of Review
judgment is appropriate if, based on the parties'
statements of material fact and the cited record, there is no
genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. M.R. Civ. P. 56(c);
Dyer v. Dep't of Transp., 2008 ME 106, ¶
14, 951 A.2d 821. "A material fact is one that can
affect the outcome of the case. A genuine issue of material
fact exists when the fact finder must choose between
competing versions of the truth." Id.
(citations omitted). When deciding a motion for summary
judgment, the court reviews the evidence in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party. Id.
the party moving for summary judgment bears the burden on a
claim or defense, the moving party must establish the
existence of each element of the claim or defense without
dispute as to any material fact in the record in order to
obtain summary judgment. Cach, LLC v. Kulas, 2011 ME
70, ¶ 8, 21 A.3d 1015. If the motion for summary
judgment is properly supported, then the burden shifts to the
non-moving party to respond with specific facts indicating a
genuine issue for trial in order to avoid summary judgment.
M.R. Civ. P. 56(e).
argue that they are entitled to Summary Judgment because
Plaintiff has failed to make out a prima facie case of
negligence. In order to establish a prima facie case for
negligence, a plaintiff must establish the elements of duty,
breach of duty, causation, and harm. Davis v. RC &
Sons Paving, Inc., 2011 ME 88, ¶ 10, 26 A.3d 787.
Defendants argue that Plaintiff has not provided any evidence
to support the argument that the alleged negligence on the
part of Defendants caused Mr. Giroux's injury. Therefore,
the Defendants claim that there is no question of material
fact and Defendants are entitled to summary judgment.
order to make out a prima facie case for the element of
causation, a plaintiff must provide evidence that but for the
defendant's breach of duty, the harm would not have
occurred and that the defendant's breach of duty
proximately caused the harm.
Evidence is sufficient to support a finding of proximate
cause if the evidence and inferences that may reasonably be
drawn from the evidence indicate that the negligence played a
substantial part in bringing about or actually causing the
injury or damage and that the injury or damage was either a
direct result or a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the
negligence. The mere possibility of such causation is not
enough, and when the matter remains one of pure speculation
or conjecture, or even if the probabilities are evenly
balanced, a defendant is entitled to a judgment.
Crowe v. Shaw, 2000 ME 136, ¶ 10, 755 A.2d 509.
The Law Court has found that "A consequence of
negligence is reasonably foreseeable if the negligence has
created a risk which might reasonably be expected to result
in the injury or damage at issue, even if the exact nature of
the injury need not, itself, be foreseeable."
Merriam v. Wanger, 2000 ME 159, ¶ 9, 757 A.2d
cite to Addy v. Jenkins in support of their Motion
for Summary Judgment. Addy v. Jenkins, 2009 ME 46,
969 A.2d 935. The facts of Addy v. Jenkins are that
a subcontractor working on the roof of a house fell from
incomplete scaffolding erected by the contractor.
Id. at ¶ 4. The scaffolding was missing some
railings, platforms and ladders and was not properly attached
to the building. Id. at ¶ 2. There was no
witness to the fall. Id. at ¶ 6. The
subcontractor had little memory of the fall. Id. The
law Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment because
without any evidence of how the subcontractor fell, the
subcontractor could not make a prima facie showing of
proximate cause. Id. at ¶ 15.
current case is distinguishable from Addy v.
Jenkins. In this case, Mrs. Giroux witnessed Mr. Giroux
get caught in door and stumble, whereas in Addy v.
Jenkins, there were no witnesses other than the injured
individual who could not remember what had happened.
According to her deposition, Mrs. Giroux saw Mr. Giroux go
out the door. Supp. S.M.F. ¶ 10. Ms. Giroux saw that the
door would not open very far and watched her husband become
stuck in the blocked door. Add. S.M.F. ¶¶ 11, 13.
With his feet outside the door, Ms. Giroux testified that Mr.
Giroux struggled to free himself by forcing himself through
the blocked door. Add. S.M.F. ¶¶ 11, 12, 15.
Immediately following Mr. Giroux's successful attempts to
squeeze through the opening between the door and the
doorframe, Mrs. Giroux heard a bang. Add. S.M.F. ¶¶
14-16. Mrs. Giroux testified that she was "looking at
the door when he fell, " but that she didn't see the
moment of the fall itself because "it happened so fast
there was no way." Add. S.M.F. ¶ 16. Mrs. Giroux
testified that she witnessed Mr. Giroux's fall; she saw
him get caught in the door and she heard the fall ...