SJC issues decision declaring new Premises Liability tendency
posted Jun 25, 2015, 7:54 AM by Michael Vosilla [ updated Jun 25, 2015, 7:56 AM ]
In the recent SJC case of Angela Sarkisian vs. Concept Restaurants, Inc., SJC-11786, the Court expanded the application of mode of operation doctrine. According to the mode of operation doctrine, a Plaintiff does not need to prove that the Defendant was on actual or constructive notice of a defective condition that gave rise to Plaintiff’s injury, rather the Plaintiff has to prove that the injuries arose from a reasonably foreseeable unsafe condition related to Defendant’s chosen mode of operation.
The Plaintiff, Angela Sarkisian, broke her leg after slipping and falling on a wet dance floor at a nightclub owned by the Defendant, Concept Restaurants. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendant, concluding that the Plaintiff failed as a matter of law to carry her burden under the “traditional” approach to premises liability because she did not show that Defendant had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition.
Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the “mode of operation” approach to premises liability, which alleviates the plaintiff’s burden of proving notice, provided the proper legal standard. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding (1) on the facts presented by the case, the mode of operation approach applied; and (2) summary judgment was improperly granted because Defendant had notice of the inherent risks associated with its chosen mode of operating its dance floor.
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