Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

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.


January 10, 1989


The opinion of the court was delivered by: VAN ANTWERPEN


 This matter comes before the court on the plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment on the issue of the defendant's liability. In support of her motion, the plaintiff has used materials produced in discovery: deposition testimony and copies of the defendant's First Aid Records, Incident Reports and Guest Injury Investigation Forms for the 1984 and 1985 seasons.

 The standards to be observed in evaluating a motion for summary judgment are clear. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) instructs a court to enter summary judgment when the record reveals that "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." This rule provides the court with a useful tool when the critical facts are undisputed, facilitating the resolution of a pending controversy without the expense and delay of conducting a trial made unnecessary by the absence of factual dispute. Peterson v. Lehigh Valley Dist. Council, 676 F.2d 81, 84 (3d Cir. 1982); Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1038, 50 L. Ed. 2d 748, 97 S. Ct. 732 (1977). Summary judgment is inappropriate, however, where the evidence before the court reveals a genuine factual disagreement requiring submission to a jury. An issue is "genuine" only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could find for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 106 S. Ct. 2505, 2510, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1986). At the summary judgment stage, "the judge's function is not himself to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial." Id. at 2511. However, if the evidence is merely "colorable" or is "not significantly probative", summary judgment may be granted. Id.

 In a summary judgment action, the moving party bears the initial burden of identifying for the court those portions of the record which it believes demonstrate the absence of a material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 106 S. Ct. 2548, 2553, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265 (1986). In making its ruling on a summary judgment motion, the court must view all inferences in a light most favorable to the non-moving party, United States v. Diebold, Inc., 369 U.S. 654, 655, 82 S. Ct. 993, 994, 8 L. Ed. 2d 176 (1962); Continental Ins. Co. v. Bodie, 682 F.2d 436, 438 (3d Cir. 1982), must resolve all doubts against the moving party, Gans v. Mundy, 762 F.2d 338, 341 (3d Cir. 1985), cert. denied, 474 U.S. 1010, 106 S. Ct. 537, 88 L. Ed. 2d 467 (1985), and must take as true all allegations of the non-moving party that conflict with those of the movant, Anderson, supra, 106 S. Ct. at 2513. We have considered these standards in evaluating the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and we have concluded that the plaintiff's motion must be denied.

 The plaintiff alleges that she suffered injuries when she fell out of an inner tube very near the tunnel of a water ride in the defendant's amusement park. The evidence that the plaintiff introduces to prove the defendant's negligence towards her are the defendant's in-house reports of inner tube accidents which happened in 1984 and 1985 in the tunnel area of the water ride. *fn1"

 Such reports may be admitted under certain conditions:

"Under some circumstances where, for example, the cause of the accident or the defective or dangerous condition is unknown or disputed, evidence of similar accidents occurring at substantially the same place and under the same or similar circumstances may, in the sound discretion of the trial judge, be admissible to prove constructive notice of a defective or dangerous condition and the likelihood of injury." (Emphasis in original).

 Stormer v. Alberts Construction Co., 401 Pa. 461, 466, 165 A.2d 87 (1960).

 The purpose behind admitting such evidence has been explained as follows:

"Such evidence will be permitted 'for the purpose of establishing the character of the place where [the accidents] occurred, their cause, and the imputation of notice, constructive at least, to the proprietors of the establishment, of the defect and the likelihood of injury.' Yoffee v. Pennsylvania Power and Light Co., 385 Pa. 520, 542, 123 A.2d 636, 648-49 (1956), quoting Ringelheim v. Fidelity Trust Co., 330 Pa. 69, 71, 198 A. 628, 629 (1938). . . ."

 Whitman v. Riddell, 324 Pa. Super. 177, 471 A.2d 521, 523 (1984).

 While there are reasons, as expressed above, which favor the admission of such evidence, there are also reasons which militate against the admission of such evidence. As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stated in Ferreira v. Wilson Borough, 344 Pa. 567, 570, 26 A.2d 342 (1942): "The chief objection to the admission of testimony as to happenings of similar accidents at the same place is that the fact of accident may admit of being explained by other causes than the one sought to be established." There is also the realization that "this limited exception, permitting the introduction of evidence of similar accidents is tempered by judicial concern that the evidence may raise collateral issues, confusing both the real issue and the jury. Stormer v. Alberts Construction Co., supra, 401 Pa. at 466, 165 A.2d at 89." Whitman, 471 A.2d at 523.

 As the instant case now stands, we have not yet obtained enough information to judge with sufficient accuracy the similarity of these accidents of 1984-1985 with that of the plaintiff. Their introduction at this stage does not demonstrate that there are no genuine issues as to any material fact in the instant case. Accordingly, these documents do not provide a basis upon which ...

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.