John B. Stewart, Attorney at Law
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Of the firm Murphy & Manitsas, LLP
Springfield, MA
Practice Areas
    > Practice Areas > Premises Liability

Premises Liability

In Massachusetts owners and persons in control of property may be liable for injuries caused by negligence. Typically a defective condition must be created by the defendant or, if created by someone else, exist long enough that a reasonable landowner would have noticed it and fixed it or warned of its existence. I have obtained good trial court results in these cases. A few examples:

In June 2015, a Judge in Hampden Superior Court allowed my motion for summary judgment on a claim against a health club for a claimed injury that occurred during a "spinning" class. The court ruled there was no evidence the spinning bikes were not properly maintained, or that any shortcomings of the bikes caused the alleged accident.

In August 2014, obtained a defense verdict in Suffolk Superior Court following a seven day trial, the jury finding no negligence on the part of a health club sued for an injury on a shoulder press. The Plaintiff claimed cervical disc injuries, lost wages and $15,000 in medical bills, alleged to have been caused by the sudden drop of the seat of an exercise machine. Expert testimony was offered, and credited by the jury, that the seat locking mechanism was not defective and no secondary safety device was required.

In Lash v. Apollo Plastics, a jury concluded a business was not liable for a deliveryman's fall on an icy stairway which he had claimed caused him over $100,000 in medical expenses and lost wages for several years out of work. Cross examination of the plaintiff resulted in concessions the condition he slipped on was neither defective or created by the defendant's neglect.

In Roman v. Pxxx Club, the plaintiff was an elderly woman whose jaw was broken by an assailant's punch in a drinking establishment. She sued the bar for negligent security, claiming additional precautions should have been taken which would have reduced the likelihood of the happening of an injury such as hers. Following the presentation of the plaintiff's evidence at trial, the court directed a verdict in favor of the defendant.

In Tacy v. Axxx Shopping Center, a strip mall store customer fell down a stairway lacking handrails while looking for a restroom. He sued the commercial landlord claiming it was responsible for a property defect which caused his fall. Referencing a lease placing the duties of ownership on the tenant, the landlord was granted summary judgment.

I also represented a pharmacy chain for a fall on ice by a customer leaving the store and sustained fractures requiring surgery, and the court agreed the evidence in the pre-trial record adequately demonstrated there was no man-made defect at the property and granted summary judgment.  Prior to the ruling, the plaintiff's demand was nearly a half-million dollars.  That ruling was later upheld on appeal.
Here are some decisions and motions of interest from my practice:

Download: gh_v._lewis_msj.pdf
Download: msj_roman_v._pulaski.pdf
Download: pruner_v._cvs_msj_ruling.pdf
Download: steeter_v._signet_msj0001.pdf
Download: tacy_v._allendale_msj.pdf

John B. Stewart, Attorney at Law, Of the firm Murphy & Manitsas, LLP
20 Maple Street, Suite 301, Springfield, MA 01103 • Ph (413) 206-9134 • Fax (413) 733-4403