A Capehart Scatchard Blog

Plaintiff’s Parking Lot Defect Claim Dismissed

By on June 27, 2014 in Blog with 0 Comments

Plaintiff Dawn Pintimalli was at the Hamilton Marketplace to shop at the Staples store. She parked her car next to the island. When she returned to her car with her packages, she stepped up onto the curb to put her packages in her car, stepped down onto the parking lot, twisted her right ankle, and fell. In Pintimalli v. Staples, Inc., 2014 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1279 (App. Div. June 4, 2014), Pintimalli sued Staples and the lot owners, claiming that the parking lot was in a defective condition and that caused her injury.

Following the accident, her husband photographed a depression in the lot between the curb and a storm drain grate. However, the plaintiff testified that she did not step down into the depression. Rather, she stepped down several feet before the depressed area.

The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, dismissing the case. The plaintiff appealed but the Appellate Division upheld the dismissal.

The issue in this case was proximate causation. The appeals court pointed out that the issue of a defendant’s liability cannot be presented to the jury simply because there is some evidence of negligence. The plaintiff must introduce evidence that affords a reasonable basis for the conclusion that it is more likely than not that the defendant’s conduct was a cause in fact of the plaintiff’s injury.

Here, the plaintiff placed herself several feet from the depression in the lot. Thus, the plaintiff failed to produce any evidence to conclude that there was a connection between the area of depression and her fall. Nor was there any evidence of a defect in the location of plaintiff’s actual fall. Accordingly, the Appellate Division agreed with the trial court that the plaintiff had failed to present proof of a genuine issue of material fact as to the issue of proximate causation.

The appeals court pointed out that when the evidence is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law, it is appropriate to grant summary judgment. Given that this case was so one sided, the Appellate Division found that the trial court had appropriately entered judgment in favor of the defendants in this case.



About the Author

About the Author:

Ms. Ramos is an Executive Committee Member and Co-Chair of the Litigation Department at Capehart Scatchard, P.A. located in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She is an experienced litigator with over 30 years experience handling diverse matters. Practice areas include tort defense, business litigation, estate litigation, tort claims and civil rights defense, construction litigation, insurance coverage, employment litigation, shareholder disputes, and general litigation.

For the years 2020-2023, Ms. Ramos was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© in the practice area of Litigation - Insurance. The attorneys on this list are selected based upon the consensus opinion of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues within the same geographical area and legal practice area. A complete description of The Best Lawyers in America© methodology can be viewed via their website at: https://www.bestlawyers.com/methodology.

In 2021, Capehart Scatchard and Ms. Ramos received the “Best Law Firm” ranking in the area of Litigation – Insurance (Metro, Tier 3) published by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers®. Law firms included on the list are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a firm must have at least one attorney who has been included in the current edition of Best Lawyers in America, which recognizes the top five percent of practicing lawyers in the United States. Betsy Ramos (Litigation – Insurance) was recognized for this prestigious award in the 2021 edition. For a description of the “Best Law Firm” selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

“Best Law Firms” is published by Best Lawyers in partnership with U.S. News & World Report. For a description of the selection methodology please visit: https://bestlawfirms.usnews.com/methodology.aspx.

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