United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
a negligence case. Plaintiff Jeana Blunt avers that she
suffered injuries when she slipped and fell on a marble
staircase at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. She alleges that her fall was caused by the
negligence of defendant Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC
(“Ritz Carlton”). Charles Blunt, Jeana
Blunt's husband, asserts a derivative loss of consortium
claim. Presently before the Court is Ritz Carlton's
Motion for Summary Judgment.
Court concludes that there is no evidence from which a
reasonable jury could find that a transitory dangerous
condition-liquid on the steps-caused plaintiff's
accident. The Court also concludes that there is evidence
from which a reasonable jury could find that Ritz Carlton had
notice of the alleged non-transitory dangerous
condition-slippery and worn steps- that plaintiff claims was
the cause of her accident. Therefore, defendant's Motion
is granted in part and denied in part.
relevant facts as set forth in the evidence submitted by the
parties are as follows. Around 11:00 A.M. on November 1,
2013, plaintiff Jeana Blunt (“plaintiff”) arrived
at the Ritz- Carlton Hotel (the “Hotel”) in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to attend a symposium. Pl.'s
Resp. to Mot. for Summ. J. (“Pl.'s Resp.”),
Ex. 2, Deposition of Jeana Blunt (“Blunt Dep.”)
91:3-21. It was raining that morning. Pl.'s Resp. to Mot.
for Summ. J., Ex. 1, Declaration of Jeana Blunt (“Blunt
Decl.”) ¶ 2.
proceeded to the symposium, which required her to descend a
staircase (“the staircase”). Blunt Decl. ¶
6. The staircase consists of 20 marble steps, and there is a
handrail on the right side of the staircase as one descends.
Blunt Dep. 102:2-5; 106:9-107:5. Plaintiff held the handrail
as she descended the steps. Id. Each step of the
staircase has three strips containing “frictional
material.” Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J.
(“Def.'s Mot.”), Ex. D, Guest Accident Report
at 5; Pl.'s Resp., Ex. 3, Declaration of Daniel Banks,
P.E. (“Banks Decl.”), Ex. A, at 2. Plaintiff
testified that she “[didn't] have a choice”
but to step on the strips while descending the stairs, and
that she tried to step on the strips. Blunt Dep. 102:9-18;
105:23-106:3. Plaintiff further testified that she did not
think that her feet were ever positioned so that her feet
“were not in contact with the strips” while she
descended the staircase. Id. at 104:18-109:22.
Plaintiff's expert, Daniel Banks,  reported that the
friction strips were “worn down such that when [he]
placed [his] hand over the strips, they render little or no
frictional material to these stairs, ” and that the
frictional material was “worn flush or below the
surface.” Banks Decl., Ex. B, at 1-2. These statements
were based on Mr. Banks' inspection of the staircase on
December 18, 2013, approximately six weeks after
plaintiff's accident. Banks Decl., Ex. A, at 1.
descended approximately thirteen steps without issue. Blunt
Dep. 104:4-6. As plaintiff descended, she looked at each
step, and she does not recall seeing any puddles or
condensation on the staircase. Blunt Dep. at 109:1-110:20.
However, plaintiff was “very concerned” about
slipping on the staircase because “they are very
oddly-shaped steps.” Id. On the seventh or
eighth step from the bottom of the staircase, plaintiff's
left foot “slipped out.” Id. at
110:21-111:22. Plaintiff stated in her declaration that when
her foot slipped, she “could tell that the step was
slippery.” Blunt Decl. ¶ 10. When she slipped,
plaintiff was holding the handrail with her right hand. Blunt
Dep. at 111:23-112:1. She attempted to grab the rail with her
left hand as she fell, which caused her to twist her body,
“smack [her] face on the railing, ” and go down
the remaining steps on her back and “head first.”
Id. at 112:2-16.
has operated the Hotel since 1999, and the “grip
strips” on the staircase have not been replaced or
repaired since that year. Pl.'s Resp., Ex. 6, Def.'s
Resp. to Pl.'s First Req. for Admissions
(“Def's Resp. to Adm.”), ¶¶ 23-24.
Before this incident, defendant had notice that three other
individuals fell on the staircase in 2007, 2008, and 2011.
Pl.'s Resp., Ex. 8-10.
Court will grant summary judgment if “the movant shows
that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and
the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); see Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). A fact is material when it
“might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law.” Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute is genuine
“if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could
return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id.
Court's role at the summary judgment stage “is not
. . . to weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the
matter but to determine whether . . . there is sufficient
evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a
verdict for that party.” Id. at 249. In making
this determination, “the court is required to examine
the evidence of record in the light most favorable to the
party opposing summary judgment, and resolve all reasonable
inferences in that party's favor.” Wishkin v.
Potter, 476 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2007). However, the
party opposing summary judgment must identify evidence that
supports each element on which it has the burden of proof.
Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322.
establish negligence under Pennsylvania law, a plaintiff must
prove four elements: (1) the defendant owed “a duty or
obligation recognized by law, requiring the actor to conform
to a certain standard of conduct for the protection of others
against unreasonable risks, ” (2) the defendant failed
to conform to that standard, (3) “a causal connection
between the conduct and the resulting injury, ” and (4)