Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Cox v. Sunday River Estates Owners' Association

Superior Court of Maine, Oxford

April 25, 2018

PAULA COX, Plaintiff
v.
SUNDAY RIVER ESTATES OWNERS' ASSOCIATION, Defendant

          ORDER ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          Robert W. Clifford, Active Retired Justice

         Defendant Sunday River Estate Owners' Association has moved for summary judgment in this action brought by the plaintiff Paula Cox .

         I. FACTS

         Plaintiff Cox is the co-owner of a condominium building located at 53 Sunday River Road in Bethel. Located next to plaintiffs building and on the same lot is a second condominium building. Both buildings are comprised of four units and each unit owner is a member of the Sunday River Estates Owners' Association.

         On November 16, 2011, plaintiff visited unit six of her condominium building for the first time in a number of years. In front of the entryway to unit six is a six-square-foot wooden box containing gravel and stone which acts as a step from the ground to the entryway. The wood beams enclosing the gravel landing extend 1 and 3/4 inches above the gravel; the distance from the top of the wood beam to the entryway is 8 and 3/8 inches. Defendant owns the land under the landing.

         Plaintiff had never seen the gravel landing prior to her visit that day, but it was "very clearly" visible when she approached unit six. Plaintiff had no difficulty ascending the gravel landing and stepping inside of unit six. Fifteen minutes later, however, plaintiff fell as she stepped outside of the entry way as she attempted to leave the unit. As a result of her fall, plaintiff suffered injuries to her left elbow, wrist, and hand. Plaintiff does not know how she fell or what caused her to fall; she only knows that she "step[ped] out the door one time-put one foot out, walked out the door, and that was it, [she] was on the ground." Plaintiff does not remember if it was the wood or gravel portion of the landing that she stepped onto.

         Plaintiff has brought this action against the defendant Association, seeking to recover for her injuries. Defendant contends that there is no liability here, and has filed a motion for summary judgment.

         The National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code 101 standards set the maximum stair riser height at seven inches. Joelle Corey-Whitman, a building inspector and code enforcement officer, believes that the height from the gravel landing to the entryway was too high to safely navigate.

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the record reflects that there is no genuine issue of material fact and the movant is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. 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." Lougee Conservancy v. CitiMortgage, Inc., 2012 ME 103, ¶ 11, 48 A.3d 774 (quotation omitted). To survive a defendant's motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff must establish a prima facie case for every element of the plaintiffs cause of action. See Savell v. Buddy, 2016 ME 139, ¶ 18, 147 A.3d 1179. When deciding a motion for summary judgment, the court reviews the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Dyer v. Dep't of Transp., 2008 ME 106, ¶ 14, 951 A.2d 821.

         III. ANALYSIS

         In order to prevail on a premises liability claim for negligence, plaintiff must present evidence sufficient to allow a finding that defendant owed her a duty to exercise reasonable care, breached that duty, and that defendant's breach caused plaintiffs injuries. See Estate of Smith v. Salveseen, 2016 ME 100, ¶ 19, 143 A.3d 780. Defendant contends that plaintiff has failed to establish a prima facie case for the elements of breach and causation.

         A. Negligence

         Defendant concedes that, as the owner of the land, it owed plaintiff, a lawful entrant upon the land, and a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect plaintiff from dangerous conditions of which it knew or reasonably should have known existed; see also Durham v. HTH Corp.,2005 ME 53, ¶ 8, 870 A.2d 577. Defendant, however, contends that plaintiff has failed to establish evidence showing that the entryway was dangerous or that the defendant knew or should have known the entryway was dangerous. Plaintiff contends that, because the height between the gravel landing and the entryway was greater than the seven-inch standard set by the National Fire Protection Association Life Safety Code, she has met her burden to establish a prima facie ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.