it reasonable that the flooding caused her injuries because she slipped on a plastic mat as she was exiting the wet basement. As such, because there is a genuine issue of material fact with regard to proximate cause, this issue must be left for the fact finder.
Finally, defendant asserts that it is not liable in this case because the act of Ms. DiNapoli, who placed the plastic mat on the floor, was a superseding cause of Mrs. Johnson's injuries. Courts in Pennsylvania follow section 447 of the Restatement of Torts to determine whether an intervening cause constitutes a superseding cause that relieves the original actor from liability. Estate of Flickinger v. Ritsky, 452 Pa. 69, 305 A.2d 40 (1973). In order for there to be a superseding cause, one of three factors must be met: 1) at the time of the defendant's negligent conduct, he should have realized that a third person might so act; or 2) a reasonable person would not regard the act by the third person as highly extraordinary; or 3) the third person's act was a normal consequence of the defendant's act and it was not done in an extraordinarily negligent manner. Restatement (Second) of Torts § 477 (1965); Flickinger, 452 Pa. at 74-75, 305 A.2d at 43. Where the undisputed facts leave room for a difference of opinion regarding the reasonableness of the third person's acts, and whether such acts were negligent or foreseeable, then the question should be left for the jury. Flickinger, 452 Pa. at 69, 305 A.2d at 43 (quoting Restatement (Second) of Torts § 453 cmt. b (1965)). See also Chacko v. Pennsylvania Dept. of Transp., 148 Pa. Commw. 494, 500, 611 A.2d 1346, 1350 n.2 (1992) (stating "the issue of whether a given force is a superseding or intervening cause is a question to be resolved by the fact finder. However, in cases where a jury may not reasonably differ, it is proper for the court to make a determination of causation." [citations omitted]).
In the present case, Ms. DiNapoli testified that she moved the plastic mat from underneath some exercise equipment in the basement and into the patio in order to get it off the wet basement rug and for it to dry. Deposition of Ms. DiNapoli, pages 94-96. She also testified that she did this approximately three days after the flood. Id. at 94. Prior to her moving the mat, it had always been in the basement under the exercise equipment. Id. at 94-96.
Again, whether Ms. DiNapoli's act of placing the plastic mat in the area right outside the basement doorway when she knew the basement rug was wet is an issue for the fact finder. Defendant has not sustained its burden in showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists because reasonable minds could differ as to whether the act of Ms. DiNapoli was negligent or foreseeable. On the one hand, it seems reasonable to remove all of the items out of a flooded basement to get them out of the way and for them to dry. Thus, it could be stated that her act was foreseeable under the circumstances. However, one could also question the reasonableness of placing the plastic mat where she did, and in that situation, her act may be considered negligent. For these reasons, summary judgment is denied on the issue of superseding cause.
In conclusion, because genuine issues of material fact exist with regard to whether defendant caused the flooding, whether defendant proximately caused Mrs. Johnson's injuries, and whether Ms. DiNapoli was a superseding cause of the accident, summary judgment must be denied in this case. An appropriate order follows.
ORDER - October 15, 1993, Filed, Entered
AND NOW, this 14th day of October, upon consideration of defendant Garden State Brickface and Stucco Company's motion for summary judgment, and all responses thereto, it is hereby ORDERED that defendant's motion is DENIED.
BY THE COURT:
J. Curtis Joyner, J.