Appellate Court Pulls the Rug Out from Plaintiff’s Case

When it comes to personal injury, the evidence is the thing wherein one catches the conscience of the court---not the king---underscoring the spirit and the letter of the law.

Plaintiff, Rosa Rivera, recently appealed an order of the Supreme Court, Westchester County, to recover damages for injuries suffered when she allegedly fell on a carpet situated next to the entrance of the defendants’ store.  

Though Ms. Rivera claimed that her fall was caused by faulty carpeting, she could not pinpoint, identify or indicate any defect in the rug. In New York, slip and fall liability for a plaintiff's injuries pivots on substantiation. There must be evidence of a dangerous or defective condition, and that the defendant either created the condition or had actual or constructive notice of it and failed to remedy it within a reasonable time.

In affirming the Supreme Court’s decision dismissing the complaint against defendants, the Appellate Division, Second Department reasoned that, “a plaintiff’s inability to identify the cause of the fall is fatal to the cause of action, because a finding that the defendant's negligence, if any, proximately caused the plaintiff's injuries would be based on speculation.”