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KERWOOD v. ROLLING HILL CORPORATION (01/20/67)

decided: January 20, 1967.

KERWOOD
v.
ROLLING HILL CORPORATION, APPELLANT



Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas No. 6 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1959, No. 890, in case of Catherine A. Kerwood and Francis Kerwood v. Rolling Hill Corporation.

COUNSEL

Tom P. Monteverde, with him George P. Williams, III, and Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis, for appellant.

William J. Toy, for appellee.

Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Musmanno. Mr. Chief Justice Bell dissents.

Author: Musmanno

[ 424 Pa. Page 60]

Mrs. Catherine A. Kerwood was seriously injured when she slipped on the floor of the Rolling Hill Hospital, which was covered with rain water. She brought an action of trespass against the owners of the hospital and recovered a verdict. The defendant Rolling Hill Corporation has appealed, seeking judgment n.o.v. or, in the alternative, a new trial.

It is fundamental law requiring no citation that the proprietor of an establishment open to the public is

[ 424 Pa. Page 61]

    required to maintain it in a reasonably safe condition for its patrons and business visitors. Mrs. Kerwood is a private nurse and had come to the hospital the night of August 12, 1958, to administer care and attention to an injured person she had accompanied in an ambulance and who had been taken into the hospital on a litter by the driver of the ambulance and a first aid assistant. It had been raining that night and water had accumulated on the floor of the enclosure into which the litter bearing the patient had been wheeled.

The floor was constructed of terrazzo which, added to the rain water sloshing over it, produced a slippery surface that did not hold the wheels of the litter in traction. The rear wheels swiveled to the side, instead of remaining forward, and the vehicle headed for the wall. Mrs. Kerwood sought to stop the movement of the litter and took two quick steps forward when her feet flew from under her and she fell heavily, with consequent injuries.

There was evidence that a rubber mat overlay the terrazzo floor but that on this particular evening, because of the rain, it had been lifted from the floor and put aside. A hospital attendant was standing by with a mop and bucket. Following the accident he was seen to mop the floor and then replace the rubber mat.

Mrs. Kerwood had entered this hospital on previous occasions and she knew, by repeated experience, if not by conscious recollection, that there was nothing about the floor to give her any concern about safety. The rubber mat on the hallway floor would prevent pedal insecurity. But on this particular night, without any notice to her, the security had been removed. The removal of the mat could have been for a useful purpose but, considering the nature of the locale, this being the emergency entrance ...


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